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Last week, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a comprehensive breakdown of the workplace discrimination charges received in 2019. The report shows that fiscal year 2019 continued the trend of declining numbers of pending charges. Interestingly, the number of charges filed in 2019 is the lowest intake in any fiscal year since at least 1997. While there may be any number of explanations for the decrease, one possibility is that employees are turning to expanding state anti-discrimination laws and more active state administrative agencies rather than the EEOC.

Retaliation More Than 50% of Charges Filed

Retaliation remained the most frequently filed charged. Retaliation was followed by disability, race and sex. Nearly 54% of all charges filed included a retaliation component. Because retaliation continues to be the most frequently filed charge, employers should be extra cautious to adopt and enforce anti-retaliation policies.

Sexual Harassment Charges Slightly Down But Recoveries Up

In 2019, the EEOC received 7,514 charges of sexual harassment, comprising 10.3% of all charges. However, the number of sexual harassment charges decreased by 1.2% since 2018.

Despite the fact that the number of sexual harassment charges declined slightly in 2019, the EEOC recovered substantially more than ever for alleged victims of sexual harassment. In 2019, the EEOC recovered $68 million for sexual harassment victims, a $12 million increase from 2018.

Reduction in Charge Backlog

The EEOC also released its inaugural agency financial report which notes the agency significantly reduced its charge backlog. According to EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon, the decrease resulted from the EEOC’s focus on “inventory reduction strategies,” “priority charge handling procedures,” technological enhancements, and “hiring of front-line staff.”

Please reach out to your Baker McKenzie employment lawyer with questions.