In late-January 2013, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its annual report of claims filed for the previous year. While there are state laws protecting employees against discrimination in the workplace as well some protective city laws, the EEOC is the federal agency which regulates and enforces the federal laws preventing employment discrimination, namely Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA.
From the data provided by the EEOC, there were 99,412 private sector workplace discrimination charges filed during fiscal year 2012. This is a decrease from 2011 when nearly 100,000 charges were filed. Additionally, race and sex discrimination are the most common types of claims made, along with retaliation for making a complaint of discrimination. It is important to note that in the EEOC statistics, sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination are included under the larger sex discrimination classification.
The past year a very active one for the agency as it filed 122 lawsuits to secure damages for violations of the federal laws. Additionally, according to its press release, the EEOC's staff resolved 254 lawsuits for a total monetary recovery of $44.2 million and completed 240 systemic investigations which, in part, resulted in 46 settlements or agreements, amounting to $36.2 million for the victims of discrimination. In particular, the use of mediation or conciliation prior to the institution of litigation by claimants increased by 18 percent from 2011. This increase in the use of alternative dispute resolution such as conciliation or mediation is particularly significant as these methods have grown more prominent over the past several years, and, in my cases, affords both the claimant and respondent to the discrimination charge the opportunity for a prompt and equitable resolution prior to the institution of any litigation.
The complete set of EEOC statistics for 2012 and earlier years as well as the EEOC's press release containing analysis of these figures is available at the EEOC's web site.