The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released data for 2016, including data on the number of charges received. According to the report the EEOC received 91,503 charges of discrimination for fiscal year 2016. Below is a breakdown of the charges filed by category—notably, retaliation remains at the top of the list.
· Retaliation: 45.9%
· Race-Based Discrimination: 35.3%
· Disability-Based Discrimination: 30.7%
· Sex-Based Discrimination: 29.4%
· Age-Based Discrimination: 22.8%
· National Origin-Based Discrimination: 10.8%
· Religion-Based Discrimination: 4.2%
· Color-Based Discrimination: 3.4%
· Equal Pay Act Violation: 1.2%
· Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act Violation: 0.3%
Within the category of sex-based discrimination, the EEOC reported receiving 1,768 charges specific to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. While Title VII does not categorize LGBT-based discrimination, the EEOC and some district courts recognize such discrimination as falling under Title VII’s prohibition against sex-based discrimination.
In 2016, the EEOC issued a Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021 which listed the following six areas as subjects of priority: (1) eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring; (2) protecting vulnerable workers, including immigrant and migrant workers, and underserved communities from discrimination (3) addressing selected emerging and developing issues; (4) ensuring equal pay protections for all workers; (5) preserving access to the legal system; and, (6) preventing systemic harassment.Of course, even if the EEOC veers from its strategic enforcement plan, a plaintiff can file a claim in federal or state court where a judge and/or jury decides its merits. It remains to be seen how the new administration in the White House will impact the EEOC’s strategic enforcement.