EEOC Releases Fiscal 2019 Charge Statistics
- New data show that increased awareness led to a reduction in the overall number of harassment charges.
- At the same time, the cost of harassment filings rose.
- In the wake of increased training mandates, businesses are seeing a reduction in frivolous charges.
In a referendum on the wave of mandatory harassment training legislation since 2018, the EEOC released its fiscal 2019 data, which shows the number of charges filed with the governmental agency stemming from sexual harassment allegations. This data is always revealing because it provides the largest sample size of harassment charges in the country and can indicate the impact legislation (and associated training) has on the workplace.
What the EEOC Data Tell Us
The fiscal 2019 data reveal a decrease in charges (to 7,514) from the 7,609 filed in fiscal 2018. While this decrease only represents a 1.2% change in the number of filings, it is essential to note that it comes on the heels of a 13.6% increase from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2018 (6,696 vs. 7,609). Given the fiscal 2019 data cover, when changes to the California harassment law went into effect, and the New York mandatory harassment training requirement became law, even a slight decrease in EEOC charges indicates that increased awareness stemming from additional training works to make our workplaces safer.
For example, the number of charges of sexual harassment dismissed for “no reasonable cause” decreased from 56.4% in 2018 to 54.6% in 2019. This decrease shows that people are becoming more cautious about which charges they bring to the agency, which means they are becoming more knowledgeable about what is (and isn’t) sexual harassment. Further, employers are likely to become more adept at handling incidents before they rise to the level of harassment or handling incidents internally to the employees’ satisfaction.
Lastly, monetary benefits arising from EEOC harassment charges increased significantly in fiscal 2019, from $56.6 million in 2018 to a whopping $68.2 million. Such a dramatic increase reflects the seriousness of both the EEOC and courts regarding sexual harassment. These introductory statistics should indicate to your organization that now is the time to get serious about implementing a harassment education program across your entire workforce, whether the state(s) you operate in require it.
Notable Trends to Consider
When the number of charges spiked in 2018, it was challenging to say what impact the new training laws would have on this crucial area of law. Nearly two years later, it is safe to say that things are trending in the right direction, not just with a decrease in charges but also with more people filing charges found to have merit rather than be dismissed with no reasonable cause.
Impact of Good Training
Employers should realize the positive impact that is training their workforce can have—reducing the overall number of workplace incidents and the number of frivolous or erroneous charges that can be time-consuming and costly. We strongly urge you to contact Syntrio to discuss your options for implementing a training program within your organization.