U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Data Reflects an Increase in Sexual Harrassment Charges Across the Country

On April 10, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a detailed breakdown of workplace discrimination charges the agency received in fiscal year 2018, which ended on September 30, 2018.  The enforcement and litigation statistics are available on the EEOC website.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability or genetic information. The EEOC laws extend to employers with at least 15 employees, along with most labor unions and employment agencies.  The agency’s release declares that it handled 519,000 calls, 34,600 emails and over 200,000 field office inquiries last year.

The EEOC has the authority to investigate claims of discrimination, issue findings, and even file a lawsuit on behalf of complainants under federal laws.  Last year, the agency filed 199 lawsuits.

According to the data release, the agency received 76,418 total charges of workplace discrimination.  For context, the agency has not received less than 80,000 charges in a year since 2006.  The California charges comprised 4,344 of the total, a dip of about 1,000 charges in the year before. The nationwide charges were predominated by retaliation, comprising approximately 50 percent of the total, followed by sex, disability, and race.

As a sign of the times and reach of the #metoo movement, there was a 13.6 percent increase in sexual harassment charges from last year, for a total of 7,609 charges.  California charges mirrored those across the country with numbers in all discrimination bases remaining consistent and an increase in sex based charges.

While the aggregate charges have decreased, the monetary results have not. The agency boasts securing $505 million against employers in the private sector, as well local, state, and federal governments, approximately $50 million of which was through litigation.  The sexual harassment claims alone totaled $56.6 million in monetary charges, not including litigation.

These numbers reflect the EEOC’s persistent findings of discrimination throughout U.S. workplaces. Of significant note, the abundance of retaliation charges emphasizes the need to sufficiently train supervisors on appropriately handling discrimination complaints and to set forth proper policies in employee handbooks. The rise in sexual harassment numbers are a reminder to comply with sexual harassment training requirements.

For more information please contact the author or the attorney you usually work with at AALRR.

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