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By: Brent Bean
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission recently released its 2019 enforcement statistics. The EEOC is the administrative agency and gatekeeper for employment law claims asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC receives charges of discrimination which typically allege such claims as race, disability discrimination or sex harassment. Notable among the types of charges the Commission received last year, claims of retaliation were the most frequently filed. Of the over 72,000 charges the EEOC received in 2019, 53.8% articulated claims for retaliation, the most of any type of claim made.
Awareness that retaliation claims are the most frequently filed charge is important for employers in not only fashioning their workplace policies and procedures, but also in implementing training to avoid such claims. Retaliation occurs, generally speaking, when the employee engages in some type of protected activity, after which the employer takes adverse employment action again the employee. Lastly, the employee has to show the adverse action would not have occurred but for the protected activity. Employers’ procedures for investigating workplace claims of discrimination or harassment, along with their policies for documenting not only those investigations but also employee discipline, are key to defending and defeating retaliation claims.
Also noteworthy, the EEOC’s enforcement numbers decreased in 2019. The Commission filed 157 lawsuits last year, down from 217 in 2018. Despite the decreased number of actual lawsuits filed, the EEOC’s statistics indicate that enforcement activity continues at a steady clip. The takeaway is that employers need to be diligent in implementing and updating their workplace training and management practices.
Finally, EEOC’s 2019 statistics show the number of charges filed alleging LGBTQ-based sex discrimination continues to increase. These charges grew to 1,868 charges in 2019, up 3% from 2018. The Supreme Court heard oral argument on a trio of LGBTQ-based cases in October 2019 and a ruling on whether these claims are viable under Title VII is expected in late Spring or early summer this year.
If you have any questions about workplace training, handbooks and developing compliant policies and procedures, please contact Brent Bean at [email protected].