Agency Limits Pending Inventory Increase; Secures Record Monetary and Injunctive Relief for Victims of Workplace Discrimination
WASHINGTON- Despite the challenges of sequestration and declining staffing, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) made significant progress toward accomplishing its goals and fulfilling its mission during fiscal year (FY) 2013, which ended Sept. 30. As a result of sequestration, the EEOC furloughed its entire workforce for 40 hours, froze hiring, and reduced its budget for litigation, information technology, travel and contracts for services, among other things.
"The EEOC's accomplishments are especially noteworthy in light of the extraordinary fiscal constraints and operational challenges in FY 2013," said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. "Despite these hurdles, the men and women of the EEOC remain committed to fulfilling our vision of achieving justice and equality in the nation's workplaces."
In the face of these challenges, the agency maintained its overall pending inventory of private sector charges steady with the prior year's inventory, showing less than one percent change (only 469 charges), the EEOC reported in its annual Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) filed today. The EEOC received a total of 93,727 private sector charges of discrimination in FY 2013, a 6,000 charge decrease from the prior three fiscal years; however, it is still one of the top five fiscal years in terms of receipts. In addition, a total of 97,252 charges were resolved, nearly 14,000 fewer than in FY 2012, likely due to the decline in staffing and resources the agency faced in FY 2013, including the impact from furloughs. At the end of the fiscal year, the pending inventory stood at 70,781. The average time for the enforcement staff to investigate and bring charges to resolution was, however, reduced by 21 days to 267 days.
The EEOC obtained a record $372.1 million in monetary relief for victims of private sector workplace discrimination in FY 2013. This is $6.7 million more than was recovered last year, and the highest level obtained in the Commission's history. Overall, the agency secured both monetary and non-monetary benefits in FY 2013 for more than 70,522 people through administrative enforcement activities including mediation, settlements and conciliations.
In FY 2013, the EEOC continued to implement its Strategic Plan for FY 2012-2016 and began implementing its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), prioritizing systemic enforcement, expanding education and outreach, and improving customer service. The agency's outreach programs reached more than 280,000 persons during the year through participation in more than 3,800 no-cost educational, training and outreach events; and the Training Institute trained over 17,000 individuals at more than 370 events.
EEOC filed 131 merits lawsuits during FY 2013. These included 89 individual suits, 21 non-systemic class suits, and 21 systemic suits. Legal staff resolved 209 merits lawsuits for a total monetary recover of $39 million. At the end of the fiscal year, the EEOC had 231 cases on its active docket, of which 46 (20 percent) were non-systemic class cases, and 54 (23 percent) involved challenges to systemic discrimination.
The agency continued to build a strong national systemic enforcement program. At the end of the fiscal year, there were 300 systemic investigations resulting in 63 settlements or conciliation agreements that recovered approximately $40 million. Systemic suits comprised 16 percent of all merits filings, and by the end of the year, represented 23.4 percent of all active merit suits - the largest proportion since tracking started in fiscal year 2006.
The agency's mediation program has continued to be a successful and integral part of the agency's work pursuant to the Strategic Plan. In FY 2013, the EEOC's private sector national mediation program conducted 11,513 mediations and secured 8,890 mediated resolutions.
Moreover, the EEOC obtained more than $160.9 million in monetary benefits for complainants through mediation resolutions, which was the second highest level in the agency's mediation program's history.
In the federal sector, where the EEOC has different enforcement obligations, the Commission resolved a total of 7,077 requests for hearings, securing more than $56.2 million in relief for parties who requested hearings. It also resolved 4,361 appeals from final agency determinations.
The EEOC's FY 2013 PAR is posted on the agency's web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/index.cfm. Comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 2013 will be available in early 2014.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site www.eeoc.gov.