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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


*** Agency's Pending Inventory of Private Sector Charges Slashed to 15-Year Low ***

WASHINGTON - Ida L. Castro, Chairwoman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today issued the agency's Accomplishments Report for Fiscal Year 1999. In addition to highlighting a dramatic reduction in EEOC's pending inventory (backlog) of private sector charges, the report touts the agency's implementation of a national mediation program and small business initiative, reform of the federal sector complaint process, issuance of major policy guidance, and expansion of outreach, education and technical assistance to stakeholders.

"As we prepare to celebrate EEOC's 35th anniversary next summer, the Commission has made significant inroads in moving America closer to our shared ideal of providing a discrimination-free workplace for all," said Chairwoman Castro.

She continued: "I am proud that we have met the goals set for us by the President and Congress in fiscal year 1999 through a comprehensive enforcement approach and by closely collaborating with all agency stakeholders. We have implemented innovative initiatives, such as the national mediation program, to improve customer service and increase efficiency without sacrificing our vital enforcement responsibilities."

EEOC's FY 1999 accomplishments, covering the period from October 1, 1998 through September 30, 1999, center around the agency's Comprehensive Enforcement Program (CEP). Articulated by Ms. Castro at the start of her tenure in October 1998, the CEP is designed to improve all aspects of agency operations by building on the success of EEOC's Priority Charge Handling Procedures and National Enforcement Plan (implemented in 1995 and 1996, respectively).

A central aspect of the CEP is the strategically coordinated integration of agency resources, with the dual focus of increased collaboration among staff in all agency functions, from outreach through resolution of cases in the private and federal sector programs. For example, in the private sector program, attorneys and investigators will work closely together on the issues to chart the appropriate course of action.

"Our comprehensive enforcement strategy has been instrumental in further cutting the backlog of private sector charges to a level not seen since the early 1980s," said Ms. Castro. "We intend to continue this progress by strategically deploying our resources to effectively eradicate discrimination at the workplace."

A key component of the CEP is the National Mediation Program, which was launched in February and became fully operational in April 1999. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution offered by EEOC soon after receiving a charge of discrimination to facilitate resolution without lengthy investigations or litigation.

Under EEOC's mediation program, the decision to mediate is completely voluntary for the charging party and employer. Moreover, EEOC maintains confidentiality of its mediation process at every stage. The program has won the endorsement and praise of a broad range of agency stakeholders, including business and labor advocates, civil rights groups, and representatives of the employer and plaintiff bars.

The mediation program complements EEOC's Small Business Initiative, implemented in March 1999 to improve customer service and expand education, outreach, and technical assistance to the employer community. The goal of the initiative is to promote voluntary compliance with agency-enforced laws through a more cooperative and collaborative relationship with small and mid-sized employers at the grassroots level. Lending support to the initiative is the designation of a small business liaison in every agency district office, availability of public information material in a "plain- language" format, upgrade of the small business section of EEOC's Web site, and development of regional small business outreach plans by agency field offices.

Listed among the agency's achievements in FY 1999 are the following:

  • Reducing the pending inventory (backlog) of private sector charges to a 15-year low of 40,234 at the close of FY 1999 (down 23% from 52,011 at the end of FY 1998 and 64% from an all-time high of 111,345 in FY 1995).
  • Substantially lowering the average traditional charge processing time of private sector charges by 45 days to 265 (down from 310 days at year-end FY 1998 and 379 days in FY 1996).
  • Nearly tripling the number of successful charge resolutions handled through voluntary mediation to 4,833 (up from 1,631 in FY 1998 and 830 in FY 1997, the first year all agency district offices participated in the mediation program).
  • Achieving a settlement success rate for mediated cases of 65% (up from a 50% projection at the outset of FY 1999), with cases being mediated on an average of only 90 days.
  • Obtaining $307.2 million in total monetary benefits for charging parties through the private sector CEP which includes administrative resolutions, mediation, and litigation (up from $261 million in FY 1998 and $154 million in FY 1995).
  • Increasing the rate of resolutions favorable to charging parties (merit factor rate) to 16.5% (up from 12% in FY 1998 and 9% in FY 1996).
  • Obtaining several multi-million dollar settlements of class action lawsuits in a wide variety of professional fields and affecting discrimination against vulnerable recent- immigrant communities, women in non-traditional jobs, the disabled, older workers, and minority individuals in various occupations.
  • Issuing new federal sector regulations streamlining the procedures governing the discrimination complaint process for federal employees (which became effective November 9, 1999). The new rules improve the federal EEO complaint process by eliminating unnecessary layers of review, utilizing alternative dispute resolution throughout the process, and addressing perceptions of unfairness in the system.
  • Issuing crucial policy guidance on "reasonable accommodation" and "undue hardship" under the Americans with Disabilities Act, guidelines on employer liability for unlawful harassment by supervisors to address recent Supreme Court rulings on sexual harassment, and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the "tender back" issue under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to address a recent Supreme Court decision concerning severance or other benefits given by employers in exchange for a waiver agreement from employees.
  • Upgrading EEOC's technological infrastructure to connect all agency field offices to a Wide Area Network, and revamping EEOC's industry-acclaimed Internet Home Page on the World Wide Web. Average user sessions per month jumped 112% from 38,980 in FY 1998 to 82,714 in FY 1999.
  • Participating in 2,550 outreach, educational, and technical assistance events, reaching approximately 207,000 people nationwide including 237 events geared toward small business audiences, attended by appoximately 11,000 people.

The full text of EEOC's Accomplishments Report for Fiscal Year 1999, as well as other information about the agency, is available on line at

EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

This page was last modified on December 27, 1999.