Why it matters: What was the most common type of discrimination charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal year 2013? According to the agency’s newly released figures, retaliation-based claims topped the list for the fifth year in a row, up 3 percent over FY 2012. The enforcement and litigation data also revealed that the EEOC bested its monetary recovery record, obtaining a total of $372.1 million between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2013. In other employment statistics, the Bureau of Labor released its annual report on union membership, documenting an increase in the number of unionized workers in the private sector to 16 million employees. Despite this bump, the agency said the overall percentage of union membership in the workforce stayed the same (at roughly 11.3 percent) and the bulk of unionized employees in the country remain in the public sector (35.3 percent of all public workers). The numbers provide an important snapshot for employment lawyers about the state of the workforce, and document litigation trends for attorneys to keep an eye on.

Detailed Discussion

After releasing its Performance and Accountability Report earlier this year,the EEOC provided more details about enforcement and litigation.

  • A total of 93,727 charges were filed in FY 2013, a decrease from FY 2012 by 5 percent. Retaliation-based claims topped the list (41 percent) followed by race discrimination, sex discrimination, and disability discrimination.
  • “Reasonable cause” findings decreased slightly over the last 12 months from 3.8 to 3.6 percent. The most common charges to result in a cause finding were those filed pursuant to the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) and sexual harassment; race-based charges and those brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act were the least likely to yield a cause finding.
  • Texas won the dubious honor of being the state where the EEOC filed the most charges – a total of 9,068 or 9.7 percent of all charges filed last year. Filling out the top five: Florida (7,597), California (6,892), Georgia (5,162), and Illinois (4,781). At the opposite end of the spectrum: Montana, with just 18 charges filed in the state.
  • The administrative process resulted in a record amount of claimant recovery in FY 2013: $372 million, up $6.7 million over the prior year.
  • On the litigation front, the EEOC filed 131 merits lawsuits, the bulk of which were based on alleged violations of Title VII (78 cases) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (51 suits). The total number of suits represents an increase of 7 percent over FY 2012.
  • During FY 2013, the agency filed the first three suits under GINA, including an individual claim as well as a collective action

The Bureau of Labor also released data for FY 2013 with information about union membership.

  • For the first time since 2009, the number of unionized workers in the private sector rose, reaching a total of 16 million. The overall percentage of union membership in the national workforce stayed the same, however, at 11.3 percent.
  • Public sector workers are much more highly unionized (at 35.3 percent) than private sector (6.7 percent). In the public sector, local government was the most common employer for unionized employees, with 40.8 percent; utilities, transportation and warehousing, telecommunications, and construction had the highest percentage for private sector workers.
  • By gender, males have a higher union membership rate than females (11.9 to 10.5 percent); by race, African-American workers have the highest percentage of unionized employees, the BOL said, followed by white workers, Asian, and Hispanic. Employees aged 45 to 64 had the highest membership rate of union membership (14 percent for ages 45 to 54 and 14.3 percent for workers aged 55 to 64).
  • The highest union rate was found in New York, with 24.4 percent of all workers, followed by Alaska (23.1 percent) and Hawaii (22.1 percent). North Carolina ranked lowest at just 3 percent.

To read the EEOC’s FY 2013 Enforcement and Litigation Data, click here

To read the BOL’s report, click here.