John F. Buckley IV, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has just reported that in fiscal year (FY) 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014) it received a total of 88,778 private sector discrimination charge filings. Although lower than the record high of 99,947 charges filed in FY 2011, the agency attributed the decrease in part to the government shutdown that took place during the reporting period. EEOC Press Release, Feb. 4, 2015. When charges filed with state fair employment agencies are factored in, there has been a significant increase in discrimination charges filed against employers.
For the fifth year in a row, allegations of retaliation under all statutes (37,955) outnumbered those of race discrimination (31,073), which until FY 2010 had been the most frequently filed charge since the EEOC became operational in 1965. Following retaliation and race, sex (26,027) and disability discrimination (25,369) were the most frequently filed charges.
Charges of discrimination based on age (20,588), national origin (9,579), religion (3,549), and color (2,756) each decreased slightly in FY 2014. Within the category of sex discrimination, charges of pregnancy discrimination (3,400) and sexual harassment (6,862) each decreased slightly. In addition, in its fourth full year of enforcing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), the EEOC received 333 charges—the same number as the preceding year.
Once a charge has been filed with the EEOC, an employer can face significant exposure even if a settlement can be reached without the added expense of protracted litigation. Two cases in which a settlement was reached in January of 2015 illustrate this point: On January 27, 2015 it was announced that Kmart Corporation will pay $102,048 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit. http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-27-15b.cfm Two days later, the EEOC announced that Skanska USA Building, Inc., a building contractor headquartered in Parsippany, N.J., will pay $95,000 to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-29-15.cfm
Over the last few months alone, the EEOC has reached dozens of settlements including a $1.2 million settlement in a case involving the failure of well servicing companies to promulgate and enforce appropriate policies on racial harassment. http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-2-14.cfm Now more than ever, counsel for employers should ensure that well-drafted policies are in place and properly enforced. National Legal Research Group, Inc., will provide a complimentary review and consultation regarding an existing employment policy, or an assessment to determine what policies are needed for your clients. To take advantage of this offer, you may contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (800) 727-6574. You can also fax an existing policy to us at (434) 817-6570. You will receive a complimentary initial consultation with John F. Buckley IV, a nationally known author and authority on Human Resources and Employment Law.