The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released its Fiscal Year 2020 Agency Financial Report reviewing the commission’s financial goals and accomplishments. For employers, the news is that the commission established a record in recovery in its court cases.
The report says that “A total of 25,925 individuals received approximately $106 million in monetary relief as a direct result of litigation resolutions. This is the highest litigation recovery amount since 2004.” Further, the commission secured “more than $535.4 million, a record amount, for victims of discrimination.” The report details the areas in which this total was made, including mediations ($156.6 million) and litigation in the private sector and state and local governments ($333.2 million). The $333.2 million was a record amount. The EEOC also secured “$84 million in relief for federal employees.” Although the EEOC has been filing fewer cases lately, it would seem those cases are winning higher judgment amounts.
The EEOC has also been catching up on its backlog. It reduced “the inventory of pending private sector charges by 3.7 percent — to 41,951 charges — the lowest in 14 years.” The commission also reduced “the number of federal sector appeals that were more than 500 days old by 32 percent, ending the year with 66 appeals that were more than 500 days old.” That is not all. The EEOC reduced its federal sector pending hearings inventory by “15.7 percent in fiscal year 2020.” In addition to lawsuits, the EEOC conducted “6,272 successful mediations” in fiscal year 2020, reducing its backlog in the process. The commission also resolved “4,308 federal sector appeals, 5 percent more resolutions than in fiscal year 2019.”
The EEOC tends to win once it goes to court. It resolved “165 lawsuits and achiev[ed] favorable results in approximately 96 percent of all district court resolutions.” For employers, the lesson is clear: don’t get involved in an employment discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC. Managers and employees should be well trained in best antidiscrimination practices, and managers should make sure they are carried out.
Education and Outreach
In addition to its litigation and alternative dispute resolution efforts, the EEOC has made education and outreach a priority. As the report puts it: “The EEOC prevented employment discrimination and promoted inclusive workplaces through education and outreach by continuing to provide robust compliance assistance and enhancing our efforts to reach vulnerable workers.” The commission conducted “more than 365 outreach events related to COVID-19 that reached 51,419 individuals.” Further, the agency conducted “more than 2,690 outreach events and provid[ed] more than 299,100 individuals nationwide with information about employment discrimination and their rights and responsibilities in the workplace.” An employer may consider inviting the EEOC to its workplace to conduct an outreach event to get as up-to-date as possible on compliance. The commission conducted “over 422 outreach events for small businesses.” The EEOC has also promoted an “online Small Business Resource Center to provide a one-stop shop to help small businesses easily access information about employer responsibilities.” The commission apparently is working well with small businesses, since the Small Business Administration gave the EEOC an “A” rating “for responsiveness to small business concerns.” The EEOC also has significant partnerships, adding “26 new significant partners” in 2020, “bringing the combined total to 357 significant partnerships.”
The EEOC’s Four-Year Plan
“The Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010…requires executive
departments, government corporations, and independent agencies to develop and post a Strategic Plan on their public websites every four fiscal years.’ The EEOC’s plan covers 2018-2022. Under the plan, the EEOC lists three key goals. The first is to pursue meaningful relief for victims of employment discrimination through administrative remedies and litigation. Its second goal is “to prevent employment discrimination and promote inclusive workplaces through education and outreach.” Its third goal is “achieving organizational excellence.”
Under the first goal, a specific target is to achieve by fiscal year “2022, 86–88% of the
EEOC’s resolutions contain targeted, equitable relief.” Additionally, “In each year through 2022, the EEOC [will continue] to favorably resolve at least 90% of enforcement lawsuits.” Another specific goal is that “an increased percentage of federal agencies subject to oversight activities or compliance reviews change their employment practices based on the EEOC’s recommendations.”
Under the second goal, “[m]embers of the public [will] understand the employment discrimination laws and know their rights and responsibilities under these laws.” As a result of increased outreach and education efforts, “[e]mployers, unions, and employment agencies (covered entities) [will] prevent discrimination, effectively address EEO issues, and support more inclusive workplaces.” To achieve these goals, the commission plans to modernize and upgrade its technology to allow for greater public access. The EEOC also plans to increase its outreach through more outreach events and to work with significant partners. Finally, it plans to update its existing public outreach materials.
Under the third goal, “Staff [will] exemplify a culture of excellence, respect, and accountability.”
Priorities for 2020
Notwithstanding the four-year plan, the commission’s chair has outlined some goals specific to 2020. These include accurate verification and validation of data and program evaluations. To improve data verification and validation:
Recent implementation of the Federal Sector EEO Portal that enables all federal agencies to electronically submit annual equal employment opportunity statistics (EEOC Form 462 and MD-715) continues to improve the quality and timeliness of the information received electronically. We continue to improve the collection and validation of information for our Integrated Mission System (IMS), which consolidates our mission data on charge intake, investigation, mediation, litigation, and outreach functions into a single shared information system.
To improve program evaluations, in fiscal year 2020, the EEOC:
continued its work on the Conciliation Project and initiated three new evaluation projects: The Impact of COVID-19 on the EEOC’s Mission Project; the Interagency Agreement (IAA) between the EEOC and The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for a Panel to Evaluate the Quality and Utility of Compensation and Hours Worked Data Collected from U.S. Employers by the EEOC through the EEO-1 Project; and the Mediation Survey Modernization Project.
2020 was a banner year for the EEOC, with records set on recovery amounts and its backlog of cases lessened. The agency also has plans to continue its high win rate and to improve its performance as an agency. Employers should take heed of its recommendations and stay current on compliance, lest they become one of the EEOC’s statistics.