What kinds of workplace discrimination complaints are lodged most frequently with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission? In fiscal year 2017 (which ended on September 30, 2017), Complaints of retaliation led the way in fiscal year 2017, followed by race and disability discrimination. Gender discrimination came in fourth, and if sexual harassment were its own category, it would come in seventh.
The EEOC enforces a variety of workplace discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and others. It uses administrative actions, a conciliation and mediation process geared toward settlement, and litigation to enforce these laws.
Overall, the EEOC received 84,254 charges of workplace discrimination last year from employees in the private sector and state and local governments. Over that same period, the agency secured $398 million in verdicts and settlements regarding current and previous cases. The EEOC resolved 99,109 charges in FY 2017, reducing its workload by 16.2 percent.
The EEOC’s legal staff filed 184 discrimination lawsuits last fiscal year. Thirty of those involved multiple victims or policies that were discriminatory, and 30 more involved allegations of systemic discrimination. The agency received 6,696 sexual harassment charges in FY 2017 and won $46.3 million in verdicts and settlements. The agency achieved successful outcomes in 90.8 percent of the lawsuits it resolved last year.
On top of those activities, the EEOC handled more than 540,000 calls to its hotline and 155,000 inquiries made at its field offices.
Top 10 bases for discrimination charges filed with the EEOC in FY 2017
Many discrimination charges have more than one basis, so the percentages below do not add up to 100. With that in mind, these were the top 10 bases for complaints:
- Retaliation – 48.8 percent (civil rights laws prohibit retaliation against employees who make good faith complaints of discrimination)
- Race discrimination – 33.9 percent
- Disability discrimination – 31.9 percent
- Gender discrimination – 30.4 percent
- Age discrimination – 21.8 percent
- National origin discrimination – 9.8 percent
- Religious discrimination – 4.1 percent
- Discrimination based on color – 3.8 percent
- Equal pay violations – 1.2 percent
- Genetic information discrimination – 0.2 percent
If you have a workplace discrimination complaint, you can file a charge directly with the EEOC after you have exhausted all internal dispute resolution options offered by your employer. However, you should consider consulting an attorney before you make even an internal complaint. An attorney can help you strategize, protect your rights and work to minimize the chance of retaliation.