Bias Complaints to EEOC Leap in 2007

March 5, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - The number of private-sector workplace discrimination charges leaped by 9% during the last fiscal year over the prior period - the highest volume of charges since 2002 and the biggest annual hike since the early 1990s, the government reported.

A news release from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about its FY 2007 statistics indicated it received 82,792 private-sector discrimination charge filings. The agency said it also recovered $345 million in monetary relief for job bias victims.

“Corporate America needs to do a better job of proactively preventing discrimination and addressing complaints promptly and effectively,” said Commission Chair Naomi C. Earp in the news release. “To ensure that equality of opportunity becomes a reality in the 21st century workplace, employers need to place a premium on fostering inclusive and discrimination-free work environments for all individuals.”

According to the EEOC’s FY 2007 data, allegations of discrimination based on race, retaliation, and sex were the most frequently filed charges, continuing a long-term trend. Additionally, nearly all major charge categories showed double-digit percentage increases from the prior year — a rare occurrence.

Last year, for the first time, retaliation was the second highest charge category (behind race), edging out sex-based charges in total filings with EEOC offices nationwide, the agency said.

Also, during FY 2007, pregnancy charges surged to a record high level of 5,587, up 14% from the prior fiscal year’s record of 4,901, the EEOC said. Sexual harassment filings increased for the first time since FY 2000, numbering 12,510 – up 4% from the prior fiscal year’s total of 12,025 – and a record 16% of sexual harassment charges were filed by men, up from 9% in the early 1990s.

Other year-end statistics released today show that the EEOC:

  • Recovered approximately $345 million in total monetary relief for charging parties, up 26% from the prior year’s total of $274 million.
  • Resolved 72,442 private-sector charges, with a historically high merit factor rate of 23%. Merit factor resolutions include mediation and other settlements and cause findings, which, if not successfully conciliated, are considered for litigation.
  • Resolved a record 8,649 charges through its voluntary National Mediation Program (up 5% from the prior year’s record high).
  • Filed 336 merits lawsuits (direct suits, interventions, and other enforcement actions), including 116 class cases involving multiple aggrieved parties or victims of discriminatory policies.

EEOC data are available here . The latest EEOC announcement is here .