The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published its Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Performance and Accountability Report. The report details activities from October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2012. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC enforces federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age disability, and family medical history or genetic information. The EEOC’s jurisdiction to enforce employment antidiscrimination laws and promote equal employment opportunity extends to private, state and local government, and federal sector employment.
As a result of last year’s budget cuts, the EEOC developed a plan “to make meaningful progress toward a more strategic and focused use” of resources. The report discusses the EEOC’s proposed Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-2016, which established three objectives:
• combating employment discrimination through strategic law enforcement;
• preventing employment discrimination through education and outreach; and
• delivering excellent and consistent service through a skilled and diverse workforce and effective systems.
This year’s report is framed largely in how the EEOC has made progress in achieving these three objectives in its strategic plan and discussing its progress toward further enforcement of the strategic plan moving forward. The report explains that the EEOC obtained a record recovery of $365.4 million through the administrative process in FY 2012. This represented an increase of $700,000 over what it recovered on behalf of parties it represented in FY 2011. The report also noted that the EEOC achieved an overall reduction in the pending administrative charge inventory by over 9%. This marked the second consecutive year of significant reduction in inventory since FY 2002.
The report indicates that in FY 2012, the EEOC resolved a total of 111,139 private sector charges and the total number of unresolved charges was again reduced by nearly 10%. The report points out that these results were achieved despite receiving nearly 100,000 private sector charges for three years in a row. The report also notes that in FY 2012, the EEOC’s federal sector programs achieved similar success. The federal sector hearings program resolved a total of 7,538 complaints securing more than $61.9 million in relief for federal employees and applicants who requested hearings.
Additionally, the agency resolved 4,265 appeals of decisions in the federal sector, including 52.9% of them within 180 days of their receipt. As a result of these efforts, the EEOC reduced the average processing time for all resolutions from 378 days in FY 2011, to 361 days in FY 2012 – a 4.5% decrease. The EEOC legal staff resolved 254 merits lawsuits for a total monetary recovery of $44.2 million and substantial equitable relief.
The agency’s outreach programs reached 318,838 persons in FY 2012 through participation in 3,992 no-cost educational, training, and outreach events. Additionally, in FY 2012, the Training Institute trained 23,119 individuals at 473 events, including 417 field Customer Specific Training events with 16,932 attendees. The report also detailed a significant reduction in the number of lawsuits filed in FY 2012. The report explains that the EEOC filed only 122 lawsuits in FY 2012, down from 261 merits lawsuits in FY 2011. Although the report characterized the EEOC’s efforts as “enforcing the law more effectively” in furtherance of its strategic objectives, these numbers also illustrate a response to growing criticism by federal courts over the EEOC’s litigation tactic.
The decrease in overall lawsuits demonstrates the EEOC’s focus on pursuing systemic discrimination lawsuits under the new strategic plan. “Systemic cases” are defined as “pattern or practice, policy, or class cases where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, occupation, business, or geographic area.” The report acknowledges that its performance measure in this area provides incentives for the agency to conduct systemic investigations whenever it finds evidence of such potential widespread discriminatory practices.
In FY 2012, the EEOC filed 12 systemic lawsuits. Systemic suits comprised 8% of all merits filings. The report pointed out that by the end of the year systemic suits represented 20% of all active merit suits – the largest proportion since tracking started in FY 2006. Under the new strategic plan, the report states that the EEOC anticipates that systemic filing will account for 22% to 24% of all pending lawsuits by FY 2016. The EEOC also resolved 240 systemic investigations, which resulted in monetary damages of $36.2 million for 3,813 individuals, and 21 systemic cases, which resulted in multiple million dollar recoveries.
Finally, the report indicates that the EEOC is succeeding in its goal to focus enforcement efforts on the “vulnerable worker and underserved communities.” The report states that the EEOC has identified approximately 90 significant partnerships in this area, with goals to increase such partnerships by 10% in both FY 2013 and FY 2014. If you need additional information or need help with employment-related claims, contact Lance Gould or Larry Golston, lawyers in our firm who handle these cases, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Lance.Gould@beasleyallen.com or Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com.
Source: Alabama Law Weekly
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