The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing various federal equal employment opportunity laws. Every year the EEOC releases information about its enforcement and litigation efforts during the previous fiscal year (FY), which runs from October 1st to September 30th. This data can be used to get a better understanding of potential employment-related liability exposures that continue to pose a significant risk to most employers.

In FY 2014, the EEOC received a total of 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination, which is lower than recent fiscal years. There were 93,727 charges filed in FY 2013 and 99,412 charges filed in FY 2012. According to the EEOC, this decrease is due in part to the government shutdown during the first quarter of FY 2014.

The EEOC obtained $296.1 million in total monetary relief through its pre-litigation enforcement program in FY 2014, which is also lower than recent fiscal years. The EEOC obtained $372.1 million in FY 2013 and $365.4 million in FY 2012. Monetary relief from cases litigated in FY 2014, including settlements, totaled $22.5 million.

The total number of charges filed in FY 2014 can be broken down as follows:

  • Retaliation under all statutes: 37,955 (42.8%)
  • Race (including racial harassment): 31,073 (35%)
  • Sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment): 26,027 (29.3%)
  • Disability: 25,369 (28.6%)
  • Age: 20,588 (23.2 percent)
  • National Origin: 9,579 (10.8%)
  • Religion: 3,549 (4.0%)
  • Color: 2,756 (3.1%)
  • Equal Pay Act: 938 (1.1%) [Note: Sex-based wage discrimination can also be charged as sex discrimination under Title VII.]
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 333 (0.4%)

The states with the most charges filed in FY 2014 were:

  • Texas (8,035)
  • Florida (7,528)
  • California (6,363)
  • Georgia (4,820)
  • Illinois (4,487).
  • Pennsylvania (4,045)
  • North Carolina (4,017)

It’s interesting to note that of the 88,778 charges filed, 57,376 were closed because the EEOC determined there was no reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred based upon evidence obtained in investigation. This means that nearly 66% of employers had to endure an EEOC investigation despite the lack of reasonable cause to support a claim of discrimination. Since even baseless EEOC investigations can be expensive, employers should consider employment practices liability insurance to help cover the costs.

Employers can avoid the EEOC’s enforcement efforts by creating and enforcing a policy against discrimination and harassment. Employees must also be trained to prevent, detect and address any unlawful behavior. Training should cover all relevant topics, such as employment liabilities, sexual harassment for managers and employees, discrimination and harassment prevention and disability discrimination.

If you would like to learn more about controlling employment-related liabilities, check out The Human Equation’s library of online courses or contact us.

The Human Equation prepares all risk management and insurance content with the professional guidance of Setnor Byer Insurance and Risk.