Less May Actually Mean More: EEOC Stats on 2020 FilingsThe EEOC has released its annual report on discrimination charges filed across the country for the fiscal year 2020. So, how does the data line up with the 2019 data (a rundown of which can be seen here)?

Charges Are Down Overall

Yet again, workplace discrimination charges are down – there were 67,448 new charges in 2020. The decrease could be related to the COVID-19 pandemic but it may not be. The EEOC has seen a downward trend in charges filed in recent years (76,418 in 2018 and 72,675 in 2019).

Retaliation Claims Are Still No. 1

Like last year’s data, retaliation claims took the lead as the most frequently cited category, coming in at 55.8% of all charges. Although the number for retaliation claims is likely highest because it is often an add on to other discrimination claims, it is still way out front. Disability (36.1%), race (32.7%), sex (31.7%), and age (21%) were the next highest categories, with equal pay claims at 1.5% and genetic information claims at 0.7% of all charges.

EEOC Is Still Collecting Money for Charging Parties and Others

Yet, even with the decrease in overall charges, resolution in favor of the charging party pre-litigation was up from 15.6% in 2019 to 17.4% in 2020. When it comes to litigation, the EEOC reports that it recovered over $106 million for charging parties or other aggrieved individuals — the highest amount in the past 16 years. Overall, the EEOC reported securing $439.2 million for aggrieved individuals in 2020 via voluntary resolutions and litigation. So, while the number of charges may be down, the price employers had to pay may actually have increased.

For a breakdown of statistics by state, see the EEOC’s statistics here.

What Does This Mean?

Like we said last year, the continued reduction in charges does not necessarily mean that there has been an overall reduction in employees who believe their employer discriminated against them. In fact, the EEOC reported that it responded to over 470,000 calls and 187,000 inquiries in field offices, including over 120,000 via the online system. Those numbers, along with the amount recovered for aggrieved individuals, should remind us to be ever vigilant in making sure discriminatory acts are not happening in the workplace and that decisions about employees are defensible. Take the time now to think about your rules and ways to better your process for preventing and/or reporting discrimination and retaliation. As always, reach out to your local employment lawyers to assist with any questions.