EEOC Releases Fiscal 2021 Enforcement and Litigation Statistics

EEOC Releases Fiscal 2021 Enforcement and Litigation Statistics

EEOC Releases Fiscal 2021 Enforcement and Litigation Statistics

On March 28, 2022, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its annual “Enforcement and Litigation Statistics.” This document compiles the agency’s discrimination and harassment charge data between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021. The data in the EEOC’s report is a valuable asset to organizations seeking information about trends in harassment and discrimination and also provides a snapshot of where things may be headed as we move through fiscal 2022. The data is also of particular interest to harassment analysts because it allows for the most significant reported sample size of charges in the country and has been indicative of the impact of mandatory training legislation, as well as the effectiveness of employer efforts to combat incidents of harassment and discrimination.

Overall Charges of Discrimination Down Significantly from Fiscal 2020

Of particular note, the number of discrimination charges processed by the agency dropped dramatically from 67,448 in fiscal 2020 to 61,331 in fiscal 2021. This number marks the lowest of the last 25 years and is almost 40,000, down from the high of nearly 100,000 in fiscal 2013. Meanwhile, retaliation charges remained high, with 34,332 reported and 56% of all orders processed by the agency containing a retaliation allegation.

The drop in discrimination charges and the high percentage of retaliation charges indicate we still have significant room for improvement in empowering our employees to speak up and report their concerns. Given demands are dropping and such a high number of employees feel subjected to retaliation when they do complain, it is likely employers need a greater focus on what managers and supervisors should do when they receive a complaint (listen up) and what employees should feel comfortable doing when they feel the need to raise a concern (speak up).

In addition to completing mandatory harassment training, employers, on the whole, have improved their overall education programs to include topics such as discrimination, diversity, equity, and inclusion, speak up/listen up respect and civility, and employee-focused education programs such as mindfulness. Overall, the recent decreases in discrimination charges since fiscal 2017 and 2018 correlate most closely with an increased focus on executive education on these issues. It is imperative that despite reductions in the number of charges processed by the EEOC that employers continue their efforts to educate their workforce, as such a practice is for the benefit of both the employees and employer alike.

Harassment Charges saw a Significant Decrease in Fiscal 2021

Given they are a subset of discrimination charges, it is no surprise that the EEOC processed significantly fewer harassment charges in fiscal 2021 (21,270) compared to fiscal 2020 (24,221). Indeed, the EEOC processed a lower number of accusations of harassment than at any point between fiscal 2010 (the first year for which data is currently available). The decreases in harassment charges can largely be attributed to the awareness of the #MeToo movement and the associated legislation requiring training and stiffer employer policies and penalties for violating the law.

Also telling in the EEOC’s harassment statistics is the low number of charges of harassment that were dismissed for “no reasonable cause,” as the EEOC dismissed 13,752 charges it found not to have merit, down from 16,376 in fiscal 2020 and 18,902 in fiscal 2019. As awareness has increased, “no reasonable cause” dismissals have decreased accordingly.

Conclusion

After analyzing the Enforcement and Litigation Statistics, the outlook on harassment and discrimination is undoubtedly positive. While we are far from eradicating workplace harassment and discrimination, the last few years show we are trending in the right direction. Employers must focus on employee-focused education and improving workplace culture with DE&I, civility, and respect education. Such programs allow employees to take skills away from work is the key to employee empowerment that is so critical to confidence in speaking up and reporting issues with the belief that the employer will listen up and take action before the incident rises to the level of harassment and discrimination or retaliation.

Syntrio invites your organization to meet with us to see how we can help you improve your workplace culture and meet your goals of limiting the potential for harassment and discrimination. We have developed many products and communication tools to educate your workforce about the need for awareness in each of these areas and the essential nature of a commitment to a positive work environment.

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