EEOC Releases Annual Performance and Accountability Report

Dec 16 2015 - Discrimination - HRWatchdog

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The EEOC obtained more than $525 million for victims of discrimination in the workplace in fiscal year 2015.

Responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) continues to focus on its strategic priorities as outlined in its annual Performance and Accountability Report.

According to the EEOC’s Report, the agency obtained a record $356.16 million in monetary relief for victims of private sector workplace discrimination through administrative enforcement activities, such as mediation, settlements and conciliations — breaking last year’s total by $60 million.

In addition, the EEOC resolved 155 merit lawsuits in federal courts for a total monetary recovery of $65.3 million.

The EEOC received 89,835 private sector charges this year – a small increase from the 88,778 charges filed in fiscal year 2014.

The EEOC continued to implement its Strategic Enforcement Plan which sets its national enforcement priorities for fiscal years 2013-2016.

As part of this plan, the EEOC emphasized that it would focus on what it called “emerging and developing” issues, including the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and issues relating to coverage, reasonable accommodation, qualification standards, undue hardship and the direct threat defense.

ADA claims accounted for a significant percentage of the EEOC’s “merit” lawsuits in fiscal year 2015 — 61 of the 155 merit lawsuits.

The EEOC continued to build a strong systemic enforcement system. According to the report, the EEOC “places a high priority on redressing systemic discrimination focusing on charges in which the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company, or geographic area.”

In fiscal year 2015, there were 268 systemic investigations resulting in a recovery of over $33.5 million.

A few of the key investigations listed in the report:

  • The EEOC obtained $2.8 million in monetary relief, plus costs, after a finding that four of the assessments a national retailer had used to hire applicants violated federal laws — one violated the ADA and the other three assessments violated Title VII.
  • The EEOC resolved claims of sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination for about $3.8 million in monetary compensation for approximately 300 women in a largely blue collar workforce.
  • A national retailer agreed to provide equitable relief and $2.5 million in monetary relief to individuals who allegedly were not recruited and hired due to their race.
  • The EEOC obtained $1.2 million in monetary relief and targeted equitable relief for a group of over 5,000 applicants who were subjected to a prohibited medical examination and prohibited medical inquiries in violation of the ADA.

The EEOC also investigated charges relating to use of arrest and conviction records in hiring. In one case, three charging parties alleged they were discriminated against based on race, African American, when they were denied hire because of a criminal background screen that contained a blanket exclusionary policy rejecting anyone with felony convictions, which the Commission found to have a disparate impact based on race. The employer changed its blanket exclusionary policy and came into compliance with EEOC’s guidance, providing $78,910 in monetary relief and training on EEOC’s arrest and convictions guidance.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

Don’t want your business to become an EEOC statistic? Attend one of CalChamber’s live 2016 Employment Law Updates seminars for insight into new laws, cases and regulations that may impact your workplace policies and practices in 2016.

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