On November 15, 2010, the EEOC published its Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2010 (ending September 30, 2010). The Report confirmed what many suspected — namely, that there were a huge number of charges filed with the EEOC in its FY 2010. In fact, nearly 100,000 charges were filed with the EEOC in 2010 — the most ever in its 45-year history and a 7.2-percent increase over the number of charges filed in 2009. The EEOC attributed this record-breaking year to its expanded statutory authorities related to the ADA Amendment Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The EEOC also claimed that the rise in charge filings is attributable to its easier filing procedures and better customer service, including by telephone and e-mail. Many predicted this surge in filings during the slow economy in which employers have had to make hard termination and layoff decisions, often more quickly than usual, and discharged employees faced difficulty finding alternative employment. Without ready options for alternative employment, individuals seem more likely to challenge actions by former employers by filing charges.
The EEOC proudly reports that despite the record number of charge filings, its backlog remained relatively constant (at approximately 16,000 charges) due to the work of an expanded staff. It also reported that only 19.2 percent of the charges ended with a "merit factor resolution," down from 20.3 percent in FY 2009. The EEOC filed 250 lawsuits in 2009, and resolved 285 (resulting in monetary recovery in the amount of $85 million). The EEOC has a total of 457 cases on its active docket.
The Agency continues to emphasize its Systemic Initiative, which it launched in April 2006. It is a "bang-for-the-buck" type of enforcement approach that emphasizes the identification, investigation, and litigation of employer polices or practices that implicate alleged discrimination having a broad impact on an industry, profession, company, or geographic location. More details about the Systemic Initiative can be found at http://tinyurl.com/26k9347. Accordingly, employers should respond with extra concern and resources when facing a charge that attacks a policy or practice that affects multiple individuals.
The EEOC's Report is available online at http://tinyurl.com/2fj2zha.