EEOC's Annual Report Shows Substantial Increase in Private Sector Discrimination Charges

EEOC sealAccording to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) annual report released this week, the agency received 93,277 private sector discrimination charges in 2009, the second highest number in 20 years. The Performance and Accountability Report FY 2009 (PAR) (pdf) noted that the number of private sector charges is projected to exceed 100,000 by the end of fiscal year 2010.

According to the PAR, the increase in charges is due in part to the additional statutory authority given to the agency through the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The EEOC claims that it has already felt the effects of the ADAAA, as there was a 10.6 percent rise in the number of ADA charges filed (21,451) compared to the 19,401 ADA charges filed in FY 2008. The agency anticipates a small increase in the number of charges filed with EEOC as a result of the enactment of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), the employment provisions of which take effect on November 21, 2009.

The new administration provided additional funding to the EEOC this year, which enabled it to hire 155 new employees. The agency also spent $2.5 million to train its investigators, attorneys, program analysts, and other employees. Pending final funding for FY 2010 and 2011, the EEOC expects to hire 140 additional staff members, with a goal of processing over 15,000 charges per year. The additional personnel will assist in processing the backlog of discrimination charges (“charge inventory”), which the agency anticipates will continue to grow. The EEOC projects that by the end of FY 2010, the charge inventory will total 87,807, nearly 14,000 more backlogged cases than those remaining at the end of FY 2008.

In terms of litigation, the EEOC field units filed 281 merits lawsuits and 32 subpoena enforcement and other actions. Of these new filings, 170 were individual suits and 111 were class suits. EEOC lawyers resolved 319 merits lawsuits for a total monetary recovery of $80,628,935. Of these resolutions, 249 involved Title VII claims, 40 involved Americans with Disabilities Act claims, 38 involved Age Discrimination in Employment Act claims, and five involved Equal Pay Act claims.

As for the EEOC’s private sector administrative enforcement activities, which include settlements and mediation of private sector charges, the EEOC obtained more than $294.1 million in monetary benefits. According to the PAR, this is the highest level of monetary relief obtained through administrative enforcement in the Commission’s history.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.