On March 5, 2008, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its annual Enforcement and Litigation Statistics for 2007 FY. The results were nothing to cheer about–especially for employers.
Number of Charges Filed
The EEOC received a total of 82,792 private sector discrimination charge filings last fiscal year. This is the highest volume of incoming charges since 2002. It is also the largest annual increase (9%) since the early 1990s.
These charges resulted in $345 million recovered by the Commission on behalf of claimants. This is a 6% increase from 2006FY
Types of Discrimination Alleged
According to the EEOC’s FY 2007 data, allegations of discrimination based on race, retaliation, and sex were the most frequently filed charges. These statistics are consistent with results from recent years.
But one statistic that has changed, although not surprisingly so, is in the retaliation category. Last year, for the first time, retaliation was the second highest charge category (behind race), surpassing sex-based charges. Historically, race has been the most frequently filed charge since the EEOC became operational in 1965.
Pregnancy- and gender-based claims, which includes sexual harassment also continued its climb upward. During FY 2007, pregnancy charges surged to a record high level of 5,587. This was a 14% increase from last year. Sexual harassment filings increased for the first time in seven years, numbering 12,510 – up 4%.
Another interesting factoid: a record 16% of sexual harassment charges were filed by men, up from 9% in the early 1990s.
And, so what?
What do the statistics mean to employers? They mean that discrimination issues are not going away on their own. Employers need to take these statistics seriously when planning for their new fiscal year. It means that supervisors and managers who work directly on the front line need to be properly trained in the laws that put your company at risk.