Why Is There Such A Decrease In EEOC Filings? Is This Good?
The EEOC just released its always-interesting yearly breakdown of charges filed and resolved.
At the end of every fiscal year, which ends September 30th, the EEOC issues in a press release its “results” with respect to number of cases files and completed, the amount of money recovered for employees, and other stats, and provides a link to its full report.
The most interesting thing to me this year is what is NOT in the EEOC’s press release: that the number of charges filed has been going down in the last few years.
Why is that?
For example, the latest report indicates that in fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) there were 72,675 charges filed, compared to 76,418 charges in FY 2018, and 84,254 charges in FY 2017.
And there were as many as 91,503 charges filed in FY 2016!
Almost 20,000 fewer charges filed since October 2015. That is a remarkable decrease!
Are we finally resolving workplace discrimination! Three cheers!!
But wait …
Do you really think that workplace discrimination and harassment is decreasing nationwide, especially since the #MeToo movement began? Or that the number of cases of discrimination on the basis of race or age or national origin has gone down? Are we becoming a more egalitarian society?
If only …
Have you been reading this blog? We have no shortage of cases to report on.
Maybe – just maybe – the dramatic decrease in charges filed with the EEOC over the last few years is a function of something else, such as a decreasing faith in federal administrative agencies, or a decreasing federal workforce, or employees turning to the ever more active state administrative agencies and relying on ever more expansive state anti-discrimination laws?
Anyway, back to the EEOC’s report. Interesting to note that retaliation, which is the easiest charge to prove and the one which an employer may have the most control over, comprises the majority of charges.
Disability and race comprise the largest number of substantive charges, both of which I tend to focus on in this blog. This may tend to tell you something about the stereotypes, fears and myths which permeate the workplace as a microcosm of society – to say nothing of ubiquitous racism.
Let the EEOC speak for itself (you can access then full report at www.eeoc.gov):
“Retaliation continued to be the most frequently filed charge filed with the agency, followed by disability, race and sex. The agency also received 7,514 sexual harassment charges – 10.3 percent of all charges, and a 1.2 percent decrease from FY 2018. Specifically, the charge numbers show the following breakdowns by bases alleged, in descending order:
• Retaliation: 39,110 (53.8 percent of all charges filed) • Disability: 24,238 (33.4 percent)
• Race: 23,976 (33.0 percent)
• Sex: 23,532 (32.4 percent)
• Age: 15,573 (21.4 percent)
• National Origin: 7,009 (9.6 percent)
• Color: 3,415 (4.7 percent)
• Religion: 2,725 (3.7 percent)
• Equal Pay Act: 1,117 (1.5 percent)
• Genetic Information: 209 (0.3 percent).
These percentages add up to more than 100% because some charges allege multiple bases.”