If you thought that the total number of charges brought against employers by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would diminish under President Trump, think again.
In fact, the number of filings in Fiscal Year 2018 (ended Sept. 30) exceeded FY 2015, FY 2016, and even the previous high number reported for FY 2017. During the recently ended year, EEOC filed 217 actions, which consisted of 197 merits lawsuits and 20 subpoena enforcement actions.
The commission’s actions also demonstrate its clear focus on sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace that began even before the #MeToo revolution erupted last year.
This year, sex discrimination claims remained the largest category of filings, similar to FY 2017, where they made up 53% of all filings. In FY 2018, they accounted for 55% of all filings.
Race discrimination charges shrunk over the last three years. However, EEOC’s 2018-20 strategic plan calls for more attention to discrimination arising from ethnicity or religion, aimed primarily at Muslims and Middle Eastern ethnic groups.
The new plan also expands the commission’s equal pay priority to include compensation discrepancies for race, ethnicity, age and disability – moving beyond EEOC’s focus on sex-based pay disparities.
“The dramatic increase in filings should be an eye-opener for employers in an era when many thought the EEOC might be hitting the brakes,” note attorneys for the Seyfarth Shaw law firm.
“The commission still strongly advises employers to update and aggressively enforce their EEO policies. Now, more than ever, employers need to be on top of their game to avoid becoming the next target of EEOC-initiated litigation.”