Why it matters
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission commended itself in the agency’s annual Performance and Accountability Report, highlighting “significant progress” in managing the pending inventory of Fiscal Year 2017 charges with the lowest number of cases in the past decade. The report—documenting the agency’s activity from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017—shares statistics on the number of charges filed, lawsuits resolved and monetary relief obtained, as well as information about outreach efforts and the launch of the new EEOC Public Portal.
In FY 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission resolved 99,109 charges and reduced the charge workload by 16.2 percent to 61,621 (a ten-year low), handling more than 540,000 calls and 155,000 contacts about possible charge filings along the way, resulting in 84,254 charges being filed.
Victims of employment discrimination benefited from $484 million, including $355.6 million in monetary relief obtained through mediation, conciliation and other administrative enforcement, along with another $42.4 million secured through litigation. “Importantly, in each of these categories, the agency obtained substantial changes to discriminatory practices to remedy violations of equal employment opportunity laws and prevent future discriminatory conduct,” the EEOC noted.
In the courtroom, FY 2017 saw 184 merits lawsuits filed by the agency—more than double the 86 suits filed in FY 2016—with 124 on behalf of individuals, 30 non-systemic suits with multiple victims and another 30 systemic cases. A total of 109 merits lawsuits were resolved, with “a favorable result” in 91 percent of all district court resolutions, the EEOC said.
For federal employees, the agency secured $72.7 million in relief and resolved 6,661 hearings complaints. An additional 4,284 appeals of agency decisions or federal sector complaints were also resolved (a 14 percent increase over the prior year), with almost half decided within 180 days of receipt, yielding $13.3 million in relief. Overall, the pending inventory for the federal program was reduced by 11 percent to 3,658—the lowest level in nine years.
The report also highlighted the agency’s outreach programs. More than 4,000 no-cost educational, training and outreach events reached approximately 317,000 individuals, the EEOC said. Technology was a major focus in FY 2017, with the completion of a pilot program in five EEOC offices that allowed individuals to submit inquiries online, schedule interviews, and submit and receive charge information digitally. With the pilot deemed a success, the agency launched the EEOC Public Portal nationwide in November.
To explain the drop in numbers, Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic pointed to new strategies deployed by the agency “to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit and more quickly resolve investigations” as well as improvements with digital systems.
“The pending inventory of private sector charges (the backlog) has been a longstanding issue for the EEOC and the public it serves,” Lipnic said in a statement. “Early in the calendar year, we made addressing the backlog a priority. A primary point of this effort was to share strategies among our offices that have been particularly effective in dealing with the pending inventory, while ensuring we are capturing charges with merit.”
To read the EEOC’s Performance and Accountability Report, click here.