What’s the Number One Federal Complaint? Retaliation

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released detailed breakdowns of the 89,385 charges of workplace discrimination that the agency received in fiscal year 2015.

Year after year, retaliation claims top the list and this year was no different. Retaliation charges increased by nearly 5 percent and account for nearly 45 percent of all charges filed with the agency. Disability charges also increased significantly — up six percent from last year and making up the third largest category of charges filed.

The EEOC resolved 92,641 charges in FY 2015 — almost 5,000 more charges than the previous fiscal year. It secured more than $525 million for victims of discrimination in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through voluntary resolutions and litigation. Of the charges filed with the EEOC in FY 2015:

  • Retaliation is the number one charge with 39,757 (44.5 percent of all charges filed).
  • Race charges came in second with 31,027 (34.7 percent).
  • Disability charges took third with 26,968 charges (30.2 percent).
  • Sex charges were a near fourth with 26,396 charges (29.5 percent).

The remaining discrimination charge statistics are as follows:

  • Age: 20,144 (22.5 percent)
  • National Origin: 9,438 (10.6 percent)
  • Religion: 3,502 (3.9 percent)
  • Color: 2,833 (3.2 percent)
  • Equal Pay Act: 973 (1.1 percent)
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 257 (0.3 percent)

These percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple bases.

In addition, charges raising claims of harassment made up nearly 28,000 charges, or 31 percent. Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach is a national priority for the EEOC. Employees claimed harassment in charges based on race, age, disability, religion, national origin and sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Over the past year, EEOC removed barriers to hire and obtained relief for thousands of people facing retaliation, unfair pay, harassment, and other forms of discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jenny Yang.  “At the same time, we demonstrated our strong commitment to working with employers to voluntarily resolve charges of discrimination by achieving the highest mediation and conciliation success rates in our history.”

Note:  As previously reported, the EEOC is currently seeking input on proposed enforcement guidance addressing retaliation and related issues. The comment period on the guidance ends on February 24, 2016. Employers can review the draft guidance and comment on it here.

CalChamber members can learn more about what employee actions are protected in the HR Library’s Retaliation section. Not a member? Learn about the benefits of membership.

Staff Contact: Gail Cecchettini Whaley