EEOC reports handling 97,443 discrimination charges in 2016
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it resolved 97,443 charges in 2016. Last year was the second consecutive year in which discrimination claims increased. Retaliation, race and disability were the top three complaint categories.
- In its 2016 Enforcement and Litigation Data report, the EEOC said it won $482 million in awards for discrimination victims in government and the private sector through both litigation and arbitration.
- The EEOC also found resolutions for 1,650 sex discrimination charges filed by members of the LGBT community, and recovered $4.4 million in settlement awards. This is the first year the EEOC included detailed information about LGBT charges in its summary.
The rise in the number of discrimination charges is worth noting. From fiscal years 2013 through 2016, LGBT employees filed 4,000 sex discrimination charges. But in 2016 alone, they filed 1,650 charges.
The agency doesn’t hear every case it’s presented, but the cases it does handle can mean big settlement payouts for employers. As always, employers should be vigilant about sustaining and enforcing anti-discrimination laws and policies in the workplace and responding swiftly to charges.
The EEOC now allows federal workers to file gender-identity complaints as sexual discrimination cases under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Private-sector employers need to be aware of this change as well since the EEOC is fighting to extend those rights beyond the public sector, and ensure LGBT rights are protected in the workplace.