It Happened Again: Retaliation is the No. 1 EEOC Charge

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released detailed breakdowns of the 84,524 charges of workplace discrimination that the agency received in fiscal year 2017.

And once again, retaliation claims top the list. Retaliation charges account for nearly 50% of all charges filed with the agency.

The EEOC resolved 99,109 charges in FY 2017. It secured more than $398 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 2017:

  • Retaliation is the 1 charge with 41,097 (48.8% of all charges filed).
  • Race discrimination charges came in second with 28,528 charges (33.9%).
  • Disability discrimination charges took third with 26,838 charges (31.9%).
  • Sex discrimination charges were a near fourth with 25,605 charges (30.4%).

The remaining discrimination charge statistics are as follows:

  • Age: 18,376 (21.8%);
  • National Origin: 8,299 (9.8%);
  • Religion: 3,436 (4.1%);
  • Color: 3,240 (3.8%);
  • Equal Pay Act: 996 (1.2%);
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA): 206 (0.2%).

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

In addition, the EEOC received 6,696 claims of sexual harassment and obtained $46.3 million in monetary benefits for victims of sexual harassment.

California Doesn’t Top the List

The EEOC also keeps track of the number of charges it receives by state. In FY 2017, Texas tops the list with 8,827 charges and 10.5% of the nationwide total. Florida is next with 6,858 charges and 8.1% of the nationwide total. Then California is third with 5,423 charges, amounting to 6.4% of the nation’s total charges.

These figures aren’t surprising given the large populations of these states. Also, keep in mind that in California, employees also have another avenue for complaining of harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Employees can file their charge with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing instead of, or in addition to, the EEOC.

The No. 1 EEOC charge from California was also retaliation, accounting for 50.7% of all state charges. Disability charges were the second highest claim filed in California at 35.3% of all charges filed in the state.

Sexual harassment charges from California accounted for 5.3% of the total sexual harassment charges received by the EEOC. Individuals in Texas filed the most sexual harassment charges with the EEOC accounting for 11% of the total sexual harassment charges filed.

Retaliation Prevention

California and federal protections against retaliation are strong. California law emphasizes an employer’s affirmative duty to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.

Training for supervisors on what constitutes retaliation and on your policy against retaliatory practices is essential. Best practices also include carefully reviewing discipline and termination decisions that involve individuals who participated in a complaint of unlawful workplace conduct and consulting legal counsel.

CalChamber members can learn more about what employee actions are protected in the HR Library’s Retaliation section.

Staff Contact: Gail Cecchettini Whaley