EEOC Releases 2017 Enforcement & Litigation Statistics

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) – the federal agency tasked with enforcing certain federal employment laws – recently released its fiscal year 2017 Enforcement and Litigation Statistics. In fiscal year 2017, the EEOC resolved 99,109 charges of discrimination.  In doing so, the EEOC made significant headway by reducing its current workload of charges to 61,621 – its lowest level in 10 years.[1]  The EEOC attributes this decrease to its deployment of “new strategies to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit, more quickly resolv[ing] investigations, and improv[ing] the agency’s digital systems.”

The EEOC further announced that employees filed 84,254 charges of workplace discrimination last year – a 7,249 decrease as compared to fiscal year 2016.  Retaliation charges were the most frequently filed, followed by race, disability, sex, and age.  The EEOC specifically noted that it received 6,696 sexual harassment charges, which claims are encompassed in the sex discrimination numbers detailed below.  A complete breakdown of the charges filed is as follows:[2]

  • Retaliation: 41,097 (48.8 percent of all charges filed)
  • Race: 28,528 (33.9 percent)
  • Disability: 26,838 (31.9 percent)
  • Sex: 25,605 (30.4 percent)
  • Age: 18,376 (21.8 percent)
  • National Origin: 8,299 (9.8 percent)
  • Religion: 3,436 (4.1 percent)
  • Color: 3,240 (3.8 percent)
  • Equal Pay Act: 996 (1.2 percent)
  • Genetic Information: 206 (.2 percent)

Fiscal year 2017 also saw a significant uptick in the amount of private lawsuits the EEOC has filed as compared to 2016. Specifically, in 2017, EEOC lawyers filed 184 discrimination lawsuits, as compared to the 86 lawsuits that were filed in fiscal year 2016.

[1]   By way of reference, in fiscal year 2016, the EEOC had 73,508 charges pending.

[2]   When added together, the percentages total more the 100% because some charges allege multiple claims.

About Brian Casaceli

Brian is an associate in the firm's Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Group. He focuses his practice on representing employers in federal and state courts in Massachusetts, as well as before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in defense of claims of discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, breach of contract, and wage payment violations. Brian also has experience in representing employers in wage and hour investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Massachusetts Attorney General. Brian further counsels employers on day to day employer issues, and has experience drafting employer handbooks and other employer policies.
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