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FY 2020 Charge Report Submitted to Congress

May 19, 2021

The Honorable Matt Cartwright    
Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science, and Related Agencies
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

Dear Chairman Cartwright:

Please find enclosed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission) report on the agency’s A, B and C charges pursuant to your request.  We appreciate the opportunity to respond and to provide context regarding the EEOC’s efforts to fulfill its mandate to enforce the nation’s anti-discrimination laws and advance equal employment opportunity.

Since the EEOC was established, America has made tremendous progress in advancing equal opportunity in our nation’s workplaces.  Despite that progress, illegal employment discrimination persists, and the Commission’s role remains particularly important today as discrimination still exists in our workplaces. In FY 2020, the Commission received 67,448 charges of workplace discrimination, resolved 70,804 charges of discrimination, and secured $439.2 million for victims of discrimination in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through voluntary resolutions and litigation.  In addition, the EEOC received over 470,000 calls to its toll-free number and more than 187,000 formal inquiries concerning discrimination to our field offices, including 122,775 inquiries through the online intake and appointment scheduling system. 

PCHP Background

Because of the high demand for the EEOC’s services and in order to implement the agency’s mission of eradicating employment discrimination more effectively, in 1995 the Commission adopted the use of Priority Charge Handling Procedures (PCHP). PCHP, as implemented, categorizes charges for priority handling based on the likelihood of an investigation resulting in a finding of reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred.  EEOC uses PCHP to make determinations regarding the amount of resources to commit to different investigations, emphasizing that the investigation for each case should be appropriate to the particular charge – taking into account EEOC’s resources. 

At its essence, PCHP is an inventory triage system, which provides for the classification of charges into three categories. PCHP classifications are not static and can change during the investigatory process based on what information is learned. Category A charges are those where it appears likely that discrimination has occurred.  In other words, these cases are most likely to be meritorious. Category B charges are those we need to investigate further to determine whether there is a violation of the laws we enforce. Category C charges are those that further investigation likely will not result in a finding of discrimination, including charges where we do not have jurisdiction, the charges are self-defeating, or the allegations are not credible. Category C charges are dismissed quickly—often at intake—to free resources for investigators to focus on cases more likely to have merit.

The adoption of PCHP was viewed as a step forward and was praised by the Government Accountability Office (GAO)Linda G Morra, the Director of Education and Employment Issues, Health, Education, and Human Services Division at GAO testified that “[t]hroughout its history, EEOC has enforced equal employment opportunity laws largely by investigating individual discrimination charges. Charge by charge, EEOC attempted to obtain remedies for victims of employment discrimination.  In light of that traditional approach, we commend EEOC's recent actions in attempting to reduce case processing times and charge inventories and to improve its operations.” 

As early as 1997, the Commission was reviewing implementation of PCHP and making recommendations to fine-tune “the agency’s charge process reforms to continue reducing the inventory and focusing investigative resources on strong cases.”  These recommendations, from the Priority Charge Handling Task Force Litigation Task Force Report, included maintaining a balanced approach to inventory management, focusing on finding and developing priority cases, dismissing “C” cases expeditiously, and ensuring the development and recategorization of “B” charges.

While the implementation of PCHP initially resulted in a significant reduction in the EEOC’s pending charge inventory, the inventory increased significantly between FY 2002 and FY 2008, and it continued to grow between FY 2008 and FY 2010.  To address the growing inventory of charges, the EEOC conducted several internal evaluations of the implementation of PCHP. These evaluations concluded that the implementation of PCHP was not consistent with the original process design approved by the Commission in 1995, and that the agency had not uniformly embraced and fully implemented key components of the PCHP policy. 

Moreover, the Commission, in its 2012 – 2016 Strategic Plan, recognized the importance of implementing effective charge and case management systems to carry out the agency’s mission-critical work addressing and remedying illegal employment discrimination.  The Plan noted the need to identify barriers to proper PCHP implementation and recommended solutions that would enable PCHP to be fully and properly implemented.  The Plan also highlighted that as the agency prioritized a reduction in its charge inventory, under no circumstances should it result in a reduction in the quality of investigations or premature closing of meritorious charges.

2017 Effort

A continued emphasis on inventory management strategies and priority charge handling procedures, technological enhancements, and hiring front-line staff in FY 2017 and FY 2018, allowed the agency to make significant progress in managing our pending workload of charges.  As part of that effort, Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic held a senior leadership meeting in 2017 to discuss “sustainable responses to charge processing challenges.”  During the meeting, the Acting Chair led a discussion that set forth practices for all offices to ensure consistent application of PCHP and the agency’s quality enforcement practices (QEP). Additionally, strategies were discussed to reach and maintain a sustainable inventory going forward.

Intake Interviews

Another significant charge management procedure that has led to better public service is the increased use of intake interviews before the filing of a charge.  In 2012, the EEOC began to review the effect of conducting pre-charge intake interviews for as many inquiries as possible.  At that time, initial intake interviews were optional and many, if not most, of the offices did not conduct them. 

As a result of this examination, career staff determined that conducting intake interviews resulted in more effective pre-charge counseling of the potential charging parties and better-drafted charges; therefore, the agency could make better decisions about PCHP categorization after an initial interview.  Better PCHP categorization meant that the agency could focus our resources on the more meritorious charges. 

The success of this process led to its incorporation into the Digital Charge System (DCS) effort, through which we offer, via the online appointment calendar, an initial intake interview to every potential charging party.  The DCS offers an interview to potential charging parties after they answer a series of screening questions to: (1) determine that they are in the right place; and (2) survey the nature of the issues.  This process permits the EEOC investigator to assess how to best focus the intake interview with a potential charging party.

At the beginning of FY 2017, the agency rolled out the DCS nationally to allow members of the public to initiate an inquiry with EEOC.  The automated system differed somewhat from the existing practice of taking inquiries via paper. To harmonize the two processes, the agency developed a new Pre-Charge Inquiry document.  In early FY 2017, the EEOC trained enforcement staff on the use of the DCS and online appointment system. These two trainings were tailored to the needs of both enforcement supervisors as well as staff.   


Even as the EEOC leverages resources and technology to successfully manage our workloads, we continue to focus on the quality of our investigations to ensure that we provide the best possible service to the public.  Specifically, we reassess each charge to determine whether the investigation has yielded information about whether further inquiry is needed; if sufficient information is available to support a cause finding; or if there is information that would lead to a conclusion of no reasonable cause that discrimination occurred.  In 2015, the Commission also approved a plan for quality enforcement practices (QEP) to provide a consistent, agency-wide framework to enhance the timeliness of charge investigations and to ensure the continued quality of charge enforcement activity.  The QEP sets forth the practices that are expected at different stages of the administrative process to ensure that charges are resolved in a timely and thorough manner.

The EEOC also views the merit factor rate as a key indicator that the reassessment and prioritization of charges does not adversely affect the quality of our investigations in the private sector.  The merit factor rate includes settlements, withdrawals with benefits, and successful and unsuccessful conciliations.  In FY 2018, the merit factor rate increased from 14.8% the previous year to 15.2% of all resolutions, at the end of FY 2019, merit factor resolutions were up, with the merit factor rate above 15.6%, and for FY 2020, merit factor rate increased to 17.4%, its highest level in the past five years.


Finally, we are attaching the following charts responsive to the request set forth in the appropriations report language.

  1. Six years of receipts, pending workload and totals:
    1. Private sector charges
    2. Numbers of A, B, and C charges

Posting of Data

The Appropriations Committee report language asks us to post the numbers of A, B, and C charges on our website. Due to the sensitive nature of this data to our law enforcement activities, we can only post agency-wide aggregate data on our website and will be posting that information publicly soon.

We hope this information is helpful to you in understanding the substantial progress the Commission has made during the more than two decades since the adoption of PCHP.  The EEOC’s staff remains strongly committed to advancing the promise of equal employment opportunity in American workplaces.  We look forward to continuing to work with you to realize that goal.


                                                                        Jacinta Ma
                                                                        Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs


cc:       The Honorable Robert Aderholt
            Ranking Member



  1. Six years of receipts, pending workload, and totals
    1. Private sector charges

      Private Sector

      Charge Receipts

      Pending End Inventory

      FY 2015



      FY 2016



      FY 2017



      FY 2018



      FY 2019



      FY 2020



      In FY 2018, there was a technical issue with the use of the digital portal that resulted in some FY 2018 receipts being counted in FY 2019.

    2. Number of A, B, and C charges over the last six fiscal years

      Category A

      Category B

      Category C



      FY 2015





      FY 2016





      FY 2017





      FY 2018





      FY 2019





      FY 2020