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EEOC charges, monetary settlements decline

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The number of EEOC charges fell slightly in fiscal year 2014, but employers wound up paying dramatically less for workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation than they did in 2013.

The EEOC obtained just $296.1 million for employees and job applicants in FY 2014, down sharply from a record-setting $372.1 million in FY 2013. The federal fiscal year runs from October to September.

The number of EEOC charges dropped less dramatically—88,778 private-sector discrimination, harassment and retaliation charges in 2014, about 5,000 fewer than in 2013.

In addition, 87,442 charges left over from years past were resolved, 9,810 fewer than in FY 2013.

The commission’s annual report card, known as the Performance and Accountability Report, attributed much of the decline to lower federal funding. An EEOC statement said enforcement activities were hampered by the 16-day federal government shutdown that started the fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2013, as well as the effects of sequestration—mandatory budget cuts triggered in March 2014 by a 2011 federal budget deal.

The EEOC has two main weapons in its enforcement arsenal. It can:

• Sue on behalf of employees who allege bias, harassment or retaliation.

The EEOC secured $96.5 million in monetary relief for employees through litigation (although $74 million of that went to federal employees who filed EEOC complaints).

• Attempt to resolve disputes through a conciliation and mediation process before formal legal proceedings begin.

The EEOC’s goal during conciliation is often to negotiate monetary settlements from employers that would rather not go to trial, either to avoid the time and expense required to litigate a case or to avoid negative publicity.

The conciliation process secured $296.1 million in monetary relief for victims of employment discrimination in private-sector and state and local government workplaces.

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