Annual Enforcement and Litigation Statistics Released by the EEOC. What Do They Reveal?

Each year the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) releases its enforcement and litigation data collected from the prior fiscal year. Recently, the EEOC reported on the total number of discrimination charges filed during fiscal year 2017.

The 84,254 charges filed nationwide, and 4,516 charges filed in Pennsylvania, reveal the following breakdown of the types of charges as compared to the 2016 data (note: the percentages below total more than 100% because employees often allege multiple types of illegal conduct in their charges):

Charges                         U.S. (2016)    U.S. (2017)                PA (2016)      PA (2017)

Race                                35.3%                33.9%                        26.9%            26.5%

Sex                                  29.4%                30.4%                        27.5%            28.6%

Race                                35.3%                33.9%                        26.9%            26.5%

National Origin             1 0.8%                  9.8%                          6.5%              7.3%

Religion                             4.2%                  4.1%                          3.8%              4.0%

Color                                  3.4%                  3.8%                          2.2%              2.4%

Retaliation (all)              45.9%                48.8%                        43.0%            47.2%

Retaliation (Title VII)     36.2%                38.0%                        29.3%            31.6%

Age                                   22.8%               21.8%                        26.2%            24.8%

Disability                         30.7%               31.9%                        36.1%            36.5%

Equal Pay Act                  1.2%                1.2%                           1.1%              1.3%

GINA                                   .3%                  .2%                             .1%                .2%

As set forth above, the amounts of charges for each type of discrimination filed in 2017 remained relatively consistent with the amounts from 2016.  However, there were still a few significant trends revealed by the overall data.

First, retaliation based charges continue to be on the rise.  In fiscal year 1997, 18,198 retaliation-based charges were received by the EEOC for a total monetary recovery of $41.7 million.  In fiscal year 2017, there were 41,097 retaliation based charges resulting in $192 million in monetary recovery.

The same trend is revealed regarding LGBT-based sex discrimination charges.  While in fiscal year 2013 there were 808 charges and $900,000 recovered, in fiscal year 2017, there were 1,762 charges and $5.3 million recovered.

All in all, no matter what is revealed each year by the EEOC data, employers should never diminish their due diligence in identifying and addressing potential discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace. Employers should always strive to have a work environment free of any violations enforced by the EEOC or otherwise, and establishing appropriate and comprehensive policies and procedures is an excellent method to achieve that goal.

Contact our Employment Law Team for additional information regarding this article at or by calling 412.242.4400.