The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today announced that private sector workplace discrimination charge filings hit unprecedented levels during fiscal year 2010. The EEOC, the federal agency enforcing employment discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, saw 99,922 filings, a 7% increase from last year and a 25% increase from 2000.
According to the EEOC, all major categories of charge filings in the private sector, which include charges filed against state and local governments, increased, including disability, age, race, religion and retaliation. The EEOC filed 250 lawsuits, resolved 285 lawsuits, and resolved 104,999 private sector charges, resulting in more than $404 million in monetary benefits from employers.
Disability filings have risen sharply in the last decade, likely due to increased awareness of the ADA which was signed into law 20 years ago. There were 25,165 charges alleging discrimination under the ADA, up 4% from 2009 and up 59% from 2000. The EEOC settled 2,597 of these cases, or 10.6%, in 2010.
More than half of the disability-related filings — 15,182 cases — were found by the EEOC to have no reasonable cause. Of the 1,186 filings found to have reasonable cause, the majority — 747 cases — were unsuccessful in court.
Still, 5,239 disability discrimination cases were favorable to the charging parties in 2010, with the defendants receiving either monetary relief through a settlement or conciliation. The EEOC was able to collect $76.1 million in monetary benefits for the parties in 2010, up from $67.8 million last year and $54.4 million a decade ago.
The EEOC also saw a rise in allegations based on age, which accounted for 23,264 filings. The most frequently filed claim in 2010 was retaliation, which prohibits an employer from firing, demoting or refusing to promote a worker who has filed a claim against the company. There were 36,258 charges of retaliation, surpassing race for the first time ever, which saw 35,890 charges in 2010. Historically, race had been the most frequently filed charge since the EEOC became operational in 1965.
The surge in charge filings may be due to multiple factors, including economic conditions, increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees’ greater awareness of the law, improvements in EEOC’s intake practices and customer service, and greater accessibility to the public.
The EEOC’s 2010 enforcement and litigation statistics, which include trend data, are available online.