On Jan. 18, 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") released its "Enforcement and Litigation Data" report for fiscal year 2016. The EEOC reported it received 91,503 charges of discrimination and secured over $482 million to resolve claims (a decrease of approximately $43 million from FY 2015).

The breakdown of charges from FY 2016 is similar to that of FY 2015, with retaliation remaining at the top of the list. Below are the FY 2016 statistics (note that charges often allege more than one claim):

  • Retaliation: 45.9%
  • Race-Based Discrimination: 35.3%
  • Disability-Based Discrimination: 30.7%
  • Sex-Based Discrimination: 29.4%
  • Age-Based Discrimination: 22.8%
  • National Origin-Based Discrimination: 10.8%
  • Religion-Based Discrimination: 4.2%
  • Color-Based Discrimination: 3.4%
  • Equal Pay Act Violation: 1.2%
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act Violation: 0.3%.

Further, the EEOC - for the first time - provided statistics specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ("LGBT") based discrimination. While neither Congress nor the Supreme Court has expressly stated that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is unlawful, the EEOC interprets LGBT-based discrimination as unlawful sex discrimination. The EEOC received 1,768 LGBT-based charges of sex discrimination and resolved 1,650 charges, recovering $4.4 million for LGBT individuals who alleged sex discrimination.

The implications are:

  1. The statistics identify the forms of discrimination that most often generate legal disputes between employers and employees.
  2. Though the law is unsettled regarding sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, the statistics demonstrate that such claims are increasing and individuals are recovering money to resolve them.