Yesterday, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its Enforcement and Litigation Data for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2018, which began October 1, 2017 and ended September 30, 2018. According to the data, the EEOC received 76,418 charges of workplace discrimination in FY 2018, with retaliation the most frequently filed charge, followed by sex, disability, and race. The EEOC filed 199 merits suits, including 117 individual suits, 45 suits involving multiple victims or discriminatory policies, and 37 systemic discrimination cases, and achieved a successful outcome in 95.7% of all federal district court resolutions.
The latest EEOC data is a tale of two stories. Overall, the total number of charges filed against employers continues a downward trend and that downward trend covers nearly all categories of discrimination. In fact, the total number of charges filed in FY 2018 dipped below 80,000 for the first time since FY 2006. That trend is likely a reflection of the strong economy.
But, the data also reflect what employment attorneys anticipated since the #MeToo movement began in the fall of 2017: sexual harassment charges increased over 13.6% from FY 2017, reaching a new high over the last 7 years. The EEOC also tracks a broader category of charges involving sex-based harassment, which showed a 5% year-over-year increase.
Three other trends worth noting:
- The number of charges alleging discrimination on the basis of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender status increased modestly (2.7% over the prior year) to reach a new high over the last 6 years. This is noteworthy as the Supreme Court mulls over whether to resolve a split among the lower federal courts as to whether sexual orientation is a protected basis under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- The EEOC filed 217 total lawsuits against employers in FY 2018, the highest number in the last 7 years.
- Continuing a long term trend, over half (51.6%) of all charges in FY 2018 included a claim of retaliation.