Sharp Drop in Workplace Discrimination Cases

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission compiled workplace discrimination enforcement and litigation statistics for fiscal year 2019, categorizing charges for each state by sex, race, national origin, and religion. The total number of charges–72,675 filings–fell to the lowest recorded number since 1992, and reports of age and sex discrimination decreased the most from fiscal year 2018.

Companies and compliances officers can use EEOC data, which is public, to monitor areas where progress is occurring, and focus attention where it's most needed to reduce workplace misconduct. Business leaders and compliance officers can focus on areas with a large number of filings that may not be as recognizable as other types of charges, such as disability, retaliation, and LGBT discrimination.

So, what is going up, and what is declining?

Charges alleging sex-based harassment fell, decreasing to 12,739 in 2019 from 13,055 in 2018. Allegations specifying sexual harassment decreased, but monetary benefits gained via mediation, conciliation, and settlements rose by $11.6 million from the previous year.  

Other types of discrimination reports saw significant increases. LGBT discrimination charges, which the EEOC began tracking in 2013, climbed to 1,868 claims and $7 million of monetary benefits in 2019 from 808 claims and $900,000 recovered in 2018.

A recent article in Compliance Week surmised the number of cases involving sexual orientation and gender identity likely will increase, as more court cases are filed and new anti-discrimination laws are enacted.

Disability discrimination claims accounted for one-third of total claims, the second-highest number of charges following those categorized as retaliation. Although the number of disability cases dropped, its percentage of total claims has steadily increased.

Retaliation accounted for 39,110 cases, and 53.8% of the charges filed.

The EEOC separated the charges by state. Texas had the highest number of claims–7,448 reports, and 10.2% of total claims–followed by Florida and Georgia, with 8.2% and 6.6% of total charges, respectively.

The number of EEOC total charges and charges per state may be lowered by better enforcement options at the state level. States with fewer claims may be offering laws or courts that better suit employee interests.

EEOC statistics do not indicate the total number of national workplace discrimination cases, but rather those reported to the commission.

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