EEOC’s latest performance report highlights risk of employment-related lawsuits

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released its performance report for fiscal year 2023, which ended September 30, 2023. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing various federal equal employment opportunity laws. According to the EEOC, “the agency’s performance during FY 2023 reflects both an increased demand for its services and significant remedies for workers who suffered discrimination.” The data contained in its annual performance report can be used to better understand various employment-related liability exposures that continue to pose a significant risk to most employers.

In 2023, the EEOC experienced an increased demand for services from the public. It received 81,055 new discrimination charges, which is a 10% increase compared to fiscal year 2022. The EEOC also handled more than 522,132 calls and 86,008 emails from the public, representing respective increases of 10% and 25%. Yet, despite the increased workload, the EEOC managed to secure more than $665 million for victims of discrimination, including approximately:

  • $440 million for 15,143 victims of employment discrimination through mediation, conciliation, and settlements;
  • $22 million for 968 individuals in litigation;
  • $202 million for 5,943 federal employees and applicants.

The EEOC also filed 143 merits lawsuits in fiscal year 2023, the most since 2019. Merits lawsuits are direct suits or interventions alleging violations of the substantive provisions of the statutes enforced by the EEOC and suits to enforce administrative settlements. It is worth noting that the EEOC also strengthened its enforcement capabilities by filling nearly 500 new positions during fiscal year 2023, most of which are front-line staff, including investigators, mediators, and attorneys.

The lawsuits filed by the EEOC in fiscal year 2023 include 86 suits seeking relief for individuals, 32 non-systemic suits with multiple victims, and 25 systemic suits. These lawsuits alleged violations covering multiple bases, including retaliation (56), sex (50), disability (43), race (24), age (12), religion (10), and national origin (8). The issues raised most frequently in these suits were discharge (65), reasonable accommodation (43), hiring (including referral, recall, assignment, and job classification) (36), constructive discharge (34), and harassment (34).

In addition to its enforcement operations, the EEOC also made significant efforts to prevent employment discrimination and advance equal employment opportunities through education and outreach, including:

  • Conducting 3,318 in-person and virtual no cost outreach and fee-based training events for 314,199 individuals nationwide.
  • Increasing outreach to vulnerable workers and developing and enhancing partnerships with organizations that work with vulnerable workers.
  • Launching social media campaigns to provide members of the public greater access to information about their rights and responsibilities.
  • Increasing digital media products to enhance the public’s understanding of their rights and responsibilities under federal equal employment opportunity laws. As a result, the EEOC’s website had more than 12 million users (11% increase) and over 31.7 million page views (9.3% increase) in fiscal year 2023.

Employers can use the EEOC’s latest performance report to protect against employment-related liabilities. After all, it is much easier to avoid costly violations when you know where the EEOC is directing its attention and how it is allocating resources. However, given today’s rapidly changing environment, employers also need employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) because it is impossible to know what tomorrow may bring.

The Human Equation prepares all risk management and insurance content with the professional guidance of Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk.

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