Retaliation Charges Were Most Common In Record-Breaking FY 2011, EEOC Reports

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By Kevin P. McGowan  

Retaliation charges accounted for the highest percentage of private sector discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal year 2011, while charges alleging unlawful bias based on religion or national origin were the fastest-growing categories, according to final enforcement and litigation statistics released by the agency Jan. 25.

Releasing its data for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2011, EEOC confirmed that it received a record-high 99,947 private sector charges and obtained a record $455.6 million in relief for discrimination claimants through its administrative program and litigation.

EEOC last November had announced its record-setting pace in charges received as well as the commission's success in reducing its charge backlog by 10 percent during fiscal 2011, the first time EEOC had cut the backlog since fiscal 2002 (62 BTM 373, 11/22/11).

Retaliation, Race Bias Charges Are Most Frequent

The latest statistics show that retaliation claims under all laws EEOC enforces accounted for 37,334 charges, or 37.4 percent of all private sector charges that EEOC received in fiscal 2011. EEOC also received 35,395 race discrimination charges, accounting for 35.4 percent of the total, the commission said.

Rounding out the top five most frequently cited allegations in fiscal 2011 were sex discrimination at 28,534 charges, disability discrimination at 25,742 charges, and age discrimination with 23,465 charges, EEOC said.

In percentage terms, religious discrimination charges showed the largest increase, rising 9.2 percent to 4,151 charges filed in fiscal 2011 from 3,790 charges filed in fiscal 2010, EEOC said. National origin bias charges rose about 4.6 percent, to 11,833 charges in fiscal 2011 from 11,304 charges in fiscal 2010, the commission said.

Charges received under the Americans with Disabilities Act grew slightly at 25,742 charges, compared with 25,165 ADA charges in fiscal 2010, the first full year the ADA Amendments Act was in effect. Since fiscal 2008, when EEOC received 19,453 ADA charges, disability discrimination charges received annually have increased by more than 6,000, with the biggest jump occurring in fiscal 2010.

EEOC's receipt of 23,465 age discrimination charges represented 23.5 percent of total charges received in fiscal 2011 and was up slightly from 23,264 age bias charges in fiscal 2010.

Charges under the Equal Pay Act decreased slightly in fiscal 2011 to 919 charges received, representing slightly less than 1 percent of all charges received, EEOC said.

EEOC said it received 245 charges under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in fiscal 2011, but it has yet to file a GINA suit.

New Highs in Monetary Relief

EEOC in fiscal 2011 obtained a record-high $455.6 million in relief for private sector and state and local government discrimination claimants through its combined enforcement, mediation, and litigation programs, the commission said. That figure represented a $45 million increase from fiscal 2010 and continued a three-year upward trend in monetary relief, EEOC said.

EEOC's mediation program, in which the commission gives parties an opportunity to settle claims prior to litigation, had a record-breaking year in both the number of resolutions and monetary benefits, the commission said. Some 9,831 charges were resolved through mediation in fiscal 2011, up 5 percent from the number resolved in fiscal 2010, and EEOC obtained approximately $171 million for discrimination claimants through mediation, $29 million more than in fiscal 2010.

EEOC in fiscal 2011 also filed 300 lawsuits, including 261 “merits”suits alleging substantive violations of the anti-discrimination laws enforced by EEOC or suits to enforce administrative settlements, the commission said. EEOC obtained $91 million in relief through its litigation program, the commission said.

EEOC resolved 112,499 charges while taking in 99,947 new charges, marking the second straight year that the agency's employees have resolved more charges than the number arriving, the commission said.

By Kevin P. McGowan  

EEOC fiscal year 2011 enforcement and litigation statistics are available on the agency's website at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/index.cfm.