Earlier this week, the EEOC issued a press release emphasizing that:
1. Private sector bias charges hit an all-time high in FY 2011. A total of 99,947 charges of employment discrimination were filed in 2011. Retaliation allegations totaled 37,334, Race discrimination charges tototaled 35,395, Disability discrimination charges totaled 25,742 and Age discrimination totaled 23,465. In the first full year of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), 245 charges were filed.
2. A record amount of money was recovered in FY 2011. The EEOC recovered $455,600,000 in monetary relief through the administrative program and litigation. This is $51,000,000 more than FY 2010. The EEOC filed more than 300 lawsuits , and litigation efforts resulted in $91,000,000 of relief. ADA claims produced the largest increase in monetary relief of all the statutes, with $103,400,000. This was a 35.9% increase from FYI 2010.
3. The pending inventory of charges was reduced for the first time in 10 years. In FYI 2011, the EEOC resolved 112,499 charges, leaving an inventory of 78,136 of pending charges.
Practice pointer. Employers must continue to educate their workforce as to the employment laws that apply, and the consequences of violating them. There seems to be more publicity about EEOC activities, and I anticipate this year will continue to show a steady, if not greater, number of charges being filed with the EEOC. Employers must take any charge seriously, and respond in an appropriate manner, which may include involving legal counsel. For those who remember Hill Street Blues, as Sgt Esterhaus would say in every show, "Hey, let's be careful out there".