According to its Fiscal Year 2014 Performance and Accountability Report, the EEOC received almost 90,000 complaints of discrimination from the private sector during the 2014 fiscal year. In processing these complaints, the EEOC obtained approximately $296.1 million in monetary relief for victims of discrimination through administrative enforcement actions, an additional $22.5 million through litigation, and $74 million for federal employees and applicants.
Both the number of complaints filed and the monetary relief obtained are down as compared to fiscal year 2013 (due, in part, to budget constraints, sequestration, and a government shutdown). But the EEOC is no less vigorous in pursuing unlawful employment practices and has indicated an increased focus on enforcement actions relating to systemic discrimination. Such cases involve employer policies or practices that, rather than being focused on an individual, impact a region, industry or entire class of employees or job applicants (e.g., discriminatory pay practices, discriminatory barriers to hiring, etc.).
And the EEOC observed that the number of systemic discrimination lawsuits will likely remain high in the near-term because of the large number of complaints currently being investigated. To that end, the EEOC reported that 25% of the lawsuits remaining on its active docket at the end of the 2014 fiscal year concern allegations of systemic discrimination.
Employers should expect continued EEOC diligence in investigating and prosecuting complaints of discriminatory workplace actions and policies. And employers should remain especially vigilant as to complaints concerning policies and procedures with potential systemic impact on employee groups.