- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed 143 employment discrimination lawsuits during fiscal year 2023. That’s more than a 50% increase compared to the previous year, the agency said Sept. 29.
- Of those cases, 25 were systemic lawsuits, which is the largest number of systemic cases filed in the past five years. Systemic lawsuits are ones in which the discrimination involved has a broad effect on an industry, profession, company or geographic location, EEOC said. In its new Strategic Enforcement Plan, EEOC said it would focus in part on preventing and remedying systemic harassment.
- “The EEOC’s litigation program is an important tool to ensure compliance with the nation’s anti-discrimination laws and promote equal employment opportunity when the commission is unable to obtain voluntary compliance,” EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows said in a statement.
Members of law firm Seyfath’s labor and employment team say the increase in filings “signal[s] that the EEOC is returning to a heightened level of litigation activity not seen in years.” While still short of the 300-plus cases filed during Obama years, EEOC activity is on the upswing, fueled by an administration change, a budget increase and the confirmation of Kalpana Kotagal as a commissioner, cementing the board’s Democratic majority, the Seyfarth team said.
Seyfarth’s analysis of EEOC filings shows that the agency targeted the hospitality, healthcare, retail and constructions/natural resources industries more than others; and lawsuits covered disability discrimination, systemic discrimination and workplace harassment, among other areas.
“The bottom line for employers is that, after a few relatively quiet years at the EEOC, the commission has made a roaring return to its prior levels of litigation activity now that it is under Democratic control,” the Seyfarth team said in a statement.