EEOC Releases 2009 Statistics on Charges and Litigation

January 19, 2010

By: Subhash Viswanathan

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently released statistics on its charge processing and litigation which include data from 1997 through 2009. As others, including the New York Times , have reported, the data shows overall charge filing down about two percent from 2008.  However, the continued high number of charges is the real story, because 2008 was a record year for charges. Thus, although there was a slight decrease in age discrimination charges in 2009, even those stayed close to the record levels of 2008. In fact, age charges for 2009 are up more than 42 percent over the last ten years. Harassment charges of all types also decreased significantly (5.8%), but again from the record 2008 levels. The subgroup of sexual harassment charges decreased at a greater rate, 8.4%. Interestingly, the percentage of sexual harassment charges filed by males stayed about the same, 16%.

Some types of charges did increase. Charges filed based on disability (up 10% from 2008), religion (up 3.5%) and national origin (up 5%) are at record levels. Charges alleging race discrimination and sex discrimination stayed very close to their record levels of 2008, and make up about 36% and 30% respectively of all charges filed. Overall, Commission charges have increased almost 16.8 percent from fiscal year 2000.

Paradoxically, the increase in number of charges over the last decade has not caused a corresponding increase in suits filed by the Commission. The number of lawsuits filed by the Commission in 2009 (314) represents a 32.5% decrease from the record setting year of 1999 (465).