The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) newly released Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) (pdf) for fiscal year 2012 states that the agency recovered more than $365.4 million in monetary benefits through its private sector administrative activities, and $44.2 million through litigation. The PAR details the agency’s assessment of its program and financial performance for FY 2012, including number of private sector charges received, federal lawsuits filed, and monetary awards recovered. A more detailed breakdown of the EEOC’s charge statistics will be released later this year.

The PAR notes that the EEOC is in the early stages of implementing its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012–2016, the four-year plan that outlines the agency’s goals and achievement benchmarks for enforcing the various anti-discrimination laws under its jurisdiction, as well as its mission to carry out education and outreach efforts. The FY 2012 PAR discusses the various benchmarks established by the Strategic Plan, and how well the agency met those goals this year. Highlights of the PAR include the following:

Private Sector Charges and Pending Inventory

The EEOC received a total of 99,412 new private sector charges in 2012, and resolved a total of 111,139 charges. The agency acknowledges, however, that the backlog of private sector discrimination cases is a continuing problem, although the EEOC has reduced the case inventory somewhat in recent years. At the end of FY 2012, the EEOC had 70,312 pending cases, 7,824 fewer than those remaining at the end of 2011. According to the PAR, over the past two years the agency has achieved an 18.6% aggregate reduction of case inventory.

Administrative Claims Resolution

In FY 2012 the EEOC obtained more than $365.4 million in monetary benefits through its private sector administrative activities, including mediation, settlements, conciliations, and withdrawals with benefits. This amount is the highest amount recovered in any one year by the agency, and $700,000 more than that recovered in 2011. Investigations and conciliation of systemic charges of discrimination – those that involved a pattern or practice, policy, and/or class cases where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company, or geographic area – resulted in $36 million in monetary benefits, approximately 10% of the total recovery amount.

Litigation

A total of 122 merits lawsuits were filed during this time. “Merits” lawsuits include direct suits and interventions alleging violations of the substantive provisions of the statutes enforced by the EEOC and suits to enforce administrative settlements. Of these lawsuits, 86 were filed on behalf of individuals and 36 involved “multiple victim” claims, which included 10 systemic lawsuits (i.e. 20 or more reported “victims”). Of these 122 filings, 66 contained Title VII claims, 45 contained Americans with Disability Act (ADA) claims, 12 contained Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) claims, and 2 contained Equal Pay Act (EPA) claims.

While the EEOC had 309 cases on its active docket in 2012, a total of 254 merits lawsuits were resolved this year, resulting in a recovery of $44.2 million. These 254 cases involved the following categories of claims: Title VII (162 cases); ADA (72 cases); ADEA (30 cases); and EPA (2 cases). Of these cases resolved via litigation, the EEOC recovered $34.3 million in Title VII resolutions, $3.6 million in ADEA resolutions, $5.4 million in ADA resolutions, and $942,000 in resolutions involving more than one statute.

Mediation

The EEOC’s private sector national mediation program secured a total of 8,714 mediated resolutions out of a total of 11,380 conducted, and resulted in a monetary recovery of more than $153.2 million. This amount is the second highest recovered in the program’s history.

Systemic Program

The EEOC has continued to place a great deal of emphasis on systemic cases. During FY 2012, the agency investigated 240 alleged instances of systemic discrimination. As a result, the EEOC was able to recover $36.2 million for 3,813 individuals. According to the PAR, this amount is four times the amount recovered in 2011. Moreover, during FY 2012, the EEOC filed 12 new systemic lawsuits, comprising 8% of all merits filing.

Of the 309 cases remaining on the active docket at the end of FY 2012, 62 were systemic cases, accounting for 20 percent of all active merits suits, the largest proportion of such suits since the agency began keeping track in 2006. The EEOC states that “based on the large volume of systemic charges currently in investigation, the quantity of systemic lawsuits and their representation on the total docket is expected to continue to steadily increase. Under the new strategic plan, the agency projects an active systemic docket of 22-24 percent of all pending lawsuits by FY 2016.”

Regulatory Efforts

On the regulatory front, on March 30, 2012 the EEOC issued a final rule amending its Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) regulations to clarify the reasonable factors other than age (RFOA) defense in disparate impact cases. One month later the agency issued enforcement guidance governing the legality of considering a job applicant’s or employee’s criminal history when making hiring or other employment decisions.