Each year around this time we employment lawyers anxiously await the EEOC's release of it's fiscal year statistics. We want to know whether our warnings to our clients that the EEOC is "increasingly active" and that the number of charges filed is "up" still ring true. Well, this week the EEOC released its 2013 fiscal year (Oct. 1 - September 30) numbers. And the numbers are a mixture of good and bad news for employers.
The good news (if you can call it that) is that there was a significant decrease in the number of charges filed. In FY 2013, 93,727 charges were filed, which is about 6,000 less than in both 2011 and 2012. This decline may be an indication that the economy is on the right track, because, in general, the worse the economy the more charges are filed. Employees who are out of work are obviously more likely to bring claims than those who remain employed.
The bad news is that the EEOC secured a record amount of settlement dollars from private sector employers - $372.1 million. This tells me that the EEOC is more agressively investigating charges and bringing lawsuits on behalf of employees. This is a trend that is likely to continue through the remainder of the Obama presidency.