Bias Suits Hit Retailers, Eateries Most in EEOC Year-End Blitz

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By Patrick Dorrian

The EEOC’s fiscal-year-end litigation sweep fell hardest on employers in five primary U.S. industries, especially retailers like Dollar General and Lowe’s and restaurants like IHOP and Chipotle.

The lion’s share of the 86 new lawsuits were filed by six of the agency’s 15 district offices, with Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago setting the pace.

The findings are based on Bloomberg BNA’s review of new lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during September, the last month of the agency’s fiscal year.

The lawsuits allege employment discrimination based on disability, sex, pregnancy, race, national origin, religion, age, sex-based discrimination against LGBT workers, and retaliation.

In all, 59 of the 86 new cases were brought against companies in five industries, with the retail trades leading the pack. The federal job rights watchdog alleged violations of employment discrimination laws by grocers, conveniences stores, and other retailers in 15 new lawsuits. Brand names Publix and Home Depot were also among the retailers sued.

Accommodations and food services companies were next, as employers in that industry were targeted in 14 new EEOC cases. This group includes restaurants, the sub-industry most frequently sued by the EEOC in September. In all, 12 restaurant employers find themselves weighing how to respond to fresh EEOC allegations following the agency’s annual year-end litigation flurry.

The other three industries in the top five were: health care and social assistance, facing 13 lawsuits; manufacturing, 10; and administrative support and waste management and remediation services, seven. No other industry was sued more than four times.

The figures were compiled using the North American Industry Classification System.

Philly, LA, Chicago Districts Most Active

Of the 86 new EEOC lawsuits in September, 55 were brought by the agency’s district offices in Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Tenn., and Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia district, which includes field offices in Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, was the most active, bringing 14 new lawsuits. It was followed by the Los Angeles district, with 12. The Los Angeles district office has field offices in Fresno, Calif., Honolulu, Las Vegas, and San Diego.

The Chicago district office was the next most active with 10 new filings, followed by Charlotte and Memphis—seven each—and Houston—five. EEOC field offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis are part of the Chicago district. The Charlotte district has three field offices elsewhere in the Carolinas and two in Virginia, and the Memphis district has area offices in Little Rock, Ark., and Nashville, Tenn. The Houston district’s lone field office is in New Orleans.

As previously reported, the 86 September case filings marked a sharp rise from September 2016, when the EEOC filed just 31 new lawsuits. Although this September was the most active litigation-wise that the agency has had since 2011, it was more or less in line with the EEOC’s litigation activity in the last month of fiscal years 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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