On January 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 2011. The statistics show that the EEOC received a record 99,947 charges of discrimination and that, despite a record number of charges, the EEOC processed and resolved more charges than were filed, resolving 112,499 charges during FY 2011. On the monetary damages front, the EEOC obtained $455.6 million in relief through EEOC mediation and litigation efforts, which represents $51 million increase from the previous fiscal year.
The FY 2011 data also revealed the following important statistics:
- For the second straight year, retaliation claims were the most common allegations made by charging parties. According to the EEOC, retaliation claims were made in over 1/3rd of all charges received.
- Disability and age discrimination claims increased significantly from prior years.
- The EEOC’s enforcement efforts for the ADA produced the highest increase in monetary relief, with the EEOC obtaining $103.4 million for alleged violations of the ADA.
- FY 2011 was the first full year of EEOC enforcement of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”),which prohibits discrimination on the basis of family medical history and other genetic information. During the first year of GINA enforcement, the EEOC received 245 charges alleging violations of GINA.
In light of these trends, employers should pay particular attention to their ADA accommodation procedures and ensure that they engage in a thorough and well-documented interactive process in response to all accommodation requests. Moreover, employers should ensure that front-line supervisors and personnel decision-makers are fully-versed in the protections afforded to individuals who engage in protected activity and that they understand retaliation risks Finally, employers who have not evaluated their policies and procedures for GINA compliance should do so to avoid what is likely to be an increasing focus by the EEOC and charging parties on GINA obligations.