Posted 02-09-2012

In late January, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its 2011 enforcement figures. A record 99,947 charges were filed, and the agency obtained $455.6 million in relief for victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in Fiscal Year 2011. The EEOC claims that, as a result of its enforcement programs in both the private and federal sectors, 5.4 million people benefitted from changes in employment policies or practices in their workplace during the past fiscal year.

The 2011 number of charges received was up slightly from 2010’s record total. For the third year in a row, charges alleging retaliation were the most numerous at 37,334, or 37.4 percent of all charges, closely followed by charges involving claims of race discrimination at 35,395 charges or 35.4 percent. While the number of race and sex discrimination allegations declined from 2010, claims of disability and age discrimination both increased.

Indeed, EEOC’s 2011 enforcement of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) produced the highest increase in monetary relief among all of the statutes enforced by the agency, shooting up by almost 35.9 percent to $103.4 million compared to $76.1 million in 2010. Back impairments were the most frequently cited disability under the ADA, followed by other orthopedic impairments, depression, anxiety disorder, and diabetes.

Harassment claims were down slightly at 30,512, including 11,364 charges of sexual harassment. Men filed one out of every six sexual harassment charges, a percentage consistent with recent years’ figures.

What this means to you:

Now is not the time to let up on your legal compliance efforts! Most observers credit the bad economy with driving the increase in EEOC complaints. While recent job creation data looks promising, employers should be aware that if the unemployment rate does not continue to decline in 2012, the number of EEOC charges may go even higher.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.