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Retaliation still top EEOC charge in FY 2018, sexual harassment up 13.6 percent

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

Retaliation claims accounted for 51.6 percent of the total charges filed with the EEOC in FY 2018.

The EEOC took in 76,418 charges of workplace discrimination in fiscal year 2018, according to data released by the agency on April 10. Notably, the EEOC resolved 90,558 charges of discrimination and secured $505 million for victims in private sector, state and local government, and federal workplaces, the agency highlighted in a release.

Retaliation still at the top. As has been the case since 2009, retaliation claims accounted for the greatest percentage of total charges filed in FY 2018—51.6 percent. Back in 2009, there were 33,613 retaliation claims alleged and 33,579 race discrimination claims, both coming in at 36.0 percent of total charges filed.

The FY 2018 data also showed that sex discrimination was the second most frequently alleged claim in charges filed with agency, followed by disability and race discrimination.

Backlog reduced. As to its continuing backlog problem, the EEOC reduced its charge workload by 19.5 percent to 49,607. The agency said this was achieved by deploying new strategies to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit, more quickly resolve investigations, and improve the agency’s digital systems. The EEOC handled more than 519,000 calls to its toll-free number, 34,600 emails, and over 200,000 inquiries in field offices, reflecting the significant public demand for the agency’s services.

The statistics show that the EEOC has been handling its workload “in a more efficient manner, expanding tools to provide better, timelier service to the public while sharpening our focus on meritorious charges and those that advance the public interest,” according to EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic. “The statistics reflect the agency’s successes in taking advantage of new strategies to bring about the lowest inventory of private sector charges in a dozen years.”

Sexual harassment charges up. The EEOC also noted that in FY 2018 it received 7,609 sexual harassment charges—a 13.6 percent jump from FY 2017. The agency obtained $56.6 million in monetary benefits for victims of sexual harassment.

“[W]e cannot look back on last year without noting the significant impact of the #MeToo movement in the number of sexual harassment and retaliation charges filed with the agency,” Lipnic said.

By the numbers. The FY 2018 charge filing data breaks down as follows:

  • Retaliation: 39,469 (51.6 percent of all charges filed)
  • Sex: 24,655 (32.3 percent)
  • Disability: 24,605 (32.2 percent)
  • Race: 24,600 (32.2 percent)
  • Age: 16,911 (22.1 percent)
  • National Origin: 7,106 (9.3 percent)
  • Color: 3,166 (4.1 percent)
  • Religion: 2,859 (3.7 percent)
  • Equal Pay Act: 1,066 (1.4 percent)
  • Genetic Information: 220 (.3 percent)

(The percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple bases.)

Lawsuits. EEOC legal staff filed 199 merits lawsuits in FY 2018, which included 117 individual suits and 45 suits involving multiple victims or discriminatory policies, and 37 systemic discrimination cases. At the end of the fiscal year, the EEOC had 302 cases on its active docket. The agency said it achieved a successful outcome in 95.7 percent of all district court resolutions.

The comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 2018, which ended September 30, 2018, are posted on the agency’s website; a detailed breakdown of charges by state is included.