A new report released by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shows where the agency focused its litigation enforcement efforts for federal employment laws in fiscal year (FY) 2022.
The report describes litigation enforcement activities and lists amounts the agency recovered under various federal statutes.
The agency filed 91 merits suits in FY 2022, which include direct suits, interventions and suits to enforce prior settlements.
More than two-thirds (68.1%) of all suits filed included claims filed under Title VII, the report shows.
Title VII is the federal law that bans discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Other suits included claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (nearly 30%), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (7.7%) and the Equal Pay Act (6.6%). Some suits included claims under more than one statute.
Sex discrimination at the fore
The EEOC focused many of its Title VII suits on sex discrimination, raising that allegation in nearly half of all the suits it filed.
The 91 merits suits filed in FY 2022 is the lowest number of suits filed in any fiscal year between 2013 and 2022. The low number coincides with a precipitous drop in litigation support funding, which went from $3.72 million in FY 2021 to $2.60 million in FY 2022.
Nearly all suits resolved in FY 2022 – slightly more than nine out of 10 – were settled via entry of a consent decree, the report says.
Types of suits filed by EEOC
Sex discrimination was easily the most commonly alleged basis for suits, appearing in 49.5% of all suits filed.
Other bases for suits included:
- Retaliation (35.2%)
- Disability discrimination (29.7%)
- Race discrimination (18.7%)
- Equal pay violations (6.6%)
- National origin discrimination (6.6%)
- Age discrimination (6.6%), and
- Color discrimination (1.1%).
The most commonly alleged issue presented in the EEOC-filed suits was wrongful discharge, which was asserted in nearly 64% of suits. That was followed most closely by harassment (42.8%), discrimination in hiring (23.1%) and disability accommodation (16.5%).
Less commonly asserted allegations related to terms and conditions of employment (15.4%), wages (9.9%), discipline (4.4%), assignment (3.3%), religious accommodation (3.3%), recordkeeping violations (2.2%) and prohibited medical inquiries or examinations (1.1%).
In sex discrimination, religious discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation cases, wrongful discharge was the most common assertion. In race discrimination and national origin cases, it was harassment. And in age discrimination cases, it was an alleged wrongful refusal to hire.
The agency resolved 96 merits lawsuits in FY 2022, recovering a total of nearly $40 million for 1,461 people.
Of those resolutions, 91.7% were reached by consent decree.
And of the 96 total resolutions, only five were unfavorable court orders, according to the report.
Almost all – 87– of the resolved suits included claims filed under Title VII or the ADA.
But Title VII again dominated when it came to the percentage of total monetary relief recovered, accounting for $34 million (85.7%).
That was followed by $4 million for the ADA and $700,000 for the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Systemic suits, systemic relief
Of the cases filed in FY 2022, 13 were systemic lawsuits.
The agency defines systemic cases as “pattern or practice, policy and/or class cases where the discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company or geographic location.”
The report says 10 systemic suits were resolved in FY 2022, producing more than $28 million for about 1,300 people.
It adds that another 25 suits filed in FY 2022, though not systemic, sought relief for multiple individuals.
What to do now
If the past is prologue, Title VII will continue to be a major focus of the agency’s enforcement efforts going forward. Since at least FY 2013, it has formed the basis for EEOC lawsuits more than any other federal statute.
As to specific Title VII issues, these statistics show it is a good time for a renewed emphasis on processing all job terminations with careful regard to Title VII protected classes – and especially sex – and reviewing harassment policies to make sure that they are up to date.