The EEOC handled 91,503 charges of workplace discrimination in fiscal year 2016, a 2.4% increase overall in a year when charges rose for every major protected characteristic.
Retaliation charges again outpaced all other claims of bias in FY2016, which ran from Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2016. The 42,018 retaliation charges were included in 46% of all private-sector EEOC complaints.
Retaliation claims have led the way since 2009, when retaliation first surpassed race discrimination as the most common form of discrimination complaint. Employees often file retaliation complaints in addition to underlying claims of discrimination.
Religious discrimination charges increased 9.2% from last year, the largest growth rate among all charges, although overall numbers remained relatively low, at 3,825.
EEOC complaints spiked during the recession, almost reaching 100,000 in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Complaints declined in 2013 and 2014 before increasing slightly in 2015 and again last year.
More than 28,000 charges—31% of the total—alleged harassment, usually accompanying an underlying charge of race, age, disability, religion, national origin or sex discrimination, which includes bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Harassment would be the third most common type of discrimination if it were a separate category.
The EEOC resolved a total of 97,443 discrimination charges in FY2016. Voluntary resolutions and litigation secured more than $482 million for discrimination victims. The five largest EEOC complaint categories for FY2016:
42,018 charges, up 5.6% from 2015
Retaliation charges have increased every year since 2006. The EEOC last year issued guidance that defines retaliation more broadly than ever, which could mean even more retaliation changes in years to come.
2. Race discrimination
32,309 charges, up 4.1%
Race bias charges peaked at 35,395 in 2011, falling 9% since then.
3. Disability discrimination
28,073 charges, up 4%
Disability bias charges have grown faster than any other category, rising 80% in the last 10 years.
4. Sex discrimination
26,935 charges, up 2%
Sex discrimination charges have held remarkably steady for 20 years, perennially accounting for about 30% of all EEOC charges.
5. Age discrimination
20,857 charges, up 3.5%
Age bias charges peaked at 24,582 in 2008 but have fallen off by 15% since then.
Rounding out the top 10 were EEOC charges alleging discrimination based on national origin (9,840 charges), religion (3,825), color (3,102), the Equal Pay Act (1,075) and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (238), the only category that declined in FY2016.