In February of 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released detailed information and statistics summarizing the charges of discrimination that the agency received throughout its 2015 fiscal year. The EEOC is the administrative agency charged with implementing and enforcing a number of federal anti-discrimination employment statutes, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Under each of these statutes, employees seeking to bring a claim of unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation must first file a charge with the EEOC. The recently released report provides helpful information regarding the types of charges that employees filed in the 2015 fiscal year, which ran from October 1, 2014 to September 20, 2015.
According to the report, the EEOC received 89,385 charges of workplace discrimination in its 2015 fiscal year. The charges show the following breakdowns of allegations:
• Retaliation: 44.5% (of all charges filed)
• Race: 34.7%
• Harassment: 31%
• Disability: 30.2%
• Sex: 29.5%
• Age: 22.5%
• National Origin: 10.6%
• Religion: 3.9%
• Color: 3.2%
• Equal Pay Act: 1.1%
• Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 0.3%.
These percentages add up to more than 100% because many claimants brought more than one allegation in each charge. In fact, based on these numbers, 189,295 separate and identifiable claims of discrimination were made, meaning that each charge contained an average of 2.1 claims.
It is worth noting that nearly half of all charges filed – 39,757 charges – included allegations of unlawful retaliation. In fact, retaliation was the most frequently filed claim. This statistic likely reflects that a growing number of employees are alleging retaliation in addition to their underlying claim of discrimination. By way of reminder, unlawful retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in statutorily protected activity, such as making a workplace discrimination complaint or participating in a discrimination proceeding.
The EEOC also reported that it filed 142 merits lawsuits during the 2015 fiscal year – up from 122 during the previous year. Employers must remain diligent in properly administering their anti-discrimination policies in order to avoid finding themselves on the other end of such a merit lawsuit.