On November 16, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its Performance and Accountability Report, which announced that the agency had concluded fiscal year 2012 with record high monetary recoveries against companies and had significantly decreased its inventory of pending cases. This is the first performance report compiled under the standards of the EEOC's new Strategic Plan, which we previously reported.

The EEOC stated that it had secured $365.4 million in monetary damages against employers through private sector administrative enforcement, which was a $700,000 increase over last year and the highest level of monetary relief that it has ever reported. This number included mediation, settlements, withdrawals with benefits, and conciliations. In keeping with the Strategic Plan's emphasis on "systemic" discrimination, the EEOC collected $36 million - 10 percent - from investigations and conciliations of such charges, which represented four times the amount received in the previous fiscal year.

In addition, the EEOC recovered $44.2 million through its litigation program, which involved a total of 122 lawsuits filed by EEOC offices nationwide. Systemic cases represented an even larger percentage in this category - 20 percent of the cases on the EEOC's litigation docket raised systemic allegations.

In addition to the monetary results, the EEOC indicated that it resolved 111,139 charges, which left the total number of unresolved private sector charges at 70,312 - a drop of 20 percent over the previous fiscal year. The EEOC received nearly 100,000 charges in 2012 (99,412).

It is obvious that discrimination charges continue to be a major issue for employers. Not only are charges being filed with the EEOC in record numbers, but the agency is taking aggressive action to resolve such claims and obtain recovery. Companies have paid a record number of dollars in both administrative and judicial forums. Thus, this is an excellent time for employers to re-examine their policies, procedures, and practices, to make sure that they are not part of the fiscal year 2013 statistics.