The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is a governmental agency responsible for enforcing federal discrimination laws, which make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. These laws also protect employees from retaliation for complaining about discrimination, filing a discrimination charge, and participating in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
Though the amount of EEOC claims filed nationwide in fiscal year 2014 was down from 2013, the number of retaliation claims increased. In 2014, retaliation claims rose to their highest percentage ever at 42.5%. The second most common allegation, race discrimination, remained at a steady rate from 2013 at about 35%.
The remaining eight of the top ten categories of charges filed with the EEOC, in terms of percentage, were sex (29.3%), disability (28.6%), age (23.2%), national origin (10.8%), religion (4%), color (3.1%), Equal Pay (1.1%), and Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (.4%). The total percentage adds up to more than 100% because some claimants file charges alleging multiple bases of discrimination, such as race and color.
Discharge remains the most common allegation. Harassment was the second most common allegation for all bases except race. For race, the second most common allegation was discriminatory terms and conditions of employment, and harassment came in third.
Although there were fewer EEOC charges in 2014 than in 2013, the agency cites that this decrease was due, at least in part, to the government shutdown in October 2013. This resulted in a substantial reduction in charges filed in the first quarter compared to the following three.
In addition to the charge decrease, the EEOC also saw a reduction in 2014 monetary recoveries. The agency’s administrative enforcement, efforts prior to litigation, recovered $76 million less than its record-breaking total of $372.1 million in 2013. Even though the number of lawsuits filed by the EEOC’s general counsel increased slightly from the previous two fiscal years, litigation recovery fell from $39 million in 2013 to $22.5 million in 2014.
The states with the most EEOC charges filed were Texas (8,035), Florida (7,528), and California (6,363), while North Carolina had the seventh highest amount with 4,017 charges filed. Although retaliation was the most common charge nationwide, in North Carolina, race was the most common allegation, accounting for 40.7% of all charges statewide, while retaliation was second at 33.3%.