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What You Should Know: EEOC's Fiscal Year 2016 Highlights

Equal opportunity is one of our nation's most cherished values, giving all of us a fair shot to achieve our dreams and aspirations. Through strategic law enforcement and coordinated outreach and education, EEOC advances opportunity and ensures freedom from discrimination in the American workplace.

EEOC increased to 97,443 the number of charges it resolved, which is 6.5 percent more than the 91,503 charges the agency received. The agency reduced the workload of pending charges by 3.8 percent to 73,508 -- the lowest pending charge workload in three years. The agency responded to over 585,000 calls to the toll-free number and more than 160,000 inquiries in field offices, reflecting the significant public demand for EEOC's services.

EEOC secured more than $482 million for victims of discrimination in private, state and local government, and federal workplaces. This included:

  • $347.9 million for victims of employment discrimination in private sector and state and local government workplaces through mediation, conciliation, and settlements;
  • $52.2 million for workers harmed by discriminatory practices obtained through litigation; and
  • $82 million for federal employees and applicants.

This included 273 resolutions of systemic investigations and 21 resolutions of systemic lawsuits totaling more than $58.3 million in remedies for workers harmed by discriminatory practices and policies. Importantly, the agency obtained substantial changes to discriminatory practices to remedy violations of equal employment opportunity laws and prevent future discriminatory conduct in the workplace.

Through mediations and conciliations, EEOC continued to work with employers to resolve charges voluntarily. EEOC's mediation program achieved a success rate of over 76 percent - saving resources for employers, workers, and the agency. Participants rate the mediation program highly, with 97 percent reporting that they would mediate future charges with the agency. EEOC also maintained a 44 percent success rate for the past two fiscal years for conciliation of charges after a finding of discrimination.

In EEOC's federal sector program, the agency resolved 6,792 hearing requests and secured more than $76.9 million in relief for federal employees. EEOC also resolved 3,751 appeals of agency decisions, with 47.3 percent resolved within 180 days of receipt, and secured more than $5.1 million in remedies.

EEOC reached more than 315,000 workers, employers, and their representatives and advocates through the agency's outreach and education program. The agency also revamped its Youth@Work website to provide updated resources for America's next generation of workers. For small businesses, EEOC launched the online Small Business Resource Center to provide a one-stop shop to help small businesses access information about employer responsibilities, and the Small Business Administration Ombudsman's Report again gave EEOC an "A" rating for responsiveness to small business concerns.

EEOC legal staff resolved 139 lawsuits and filed 86 lawsuits alleging discrimination in 2016. The lawsuits filed by EEOC included 55 individual suits and 31 suits involving multiple victims or discriminatory policies. At the end of the fiscal year, EEOC had 168 cases on its active docket, of which 48 (28.6 percent) involve challenges to systemic discrimination and an additional 32 (19.0 percent) are multiple-victim cases.

EEOC issued regulations describing how the ADA and GINA apply to employer-sponsored wellness plans, a comprehensive guidance on retaliation informed by a new public input procedure, and resource documents on employer-provided leave and the ADA. The agency also finalized changes to the EEO-1 form to collect pay data beginning March 2018.

The Commission held two public meetings and a hearing focused on:  

To address the pressing issue of harassment - which spans industries and workplaces - Commissioners Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic, the co-chairs of the agency's Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, released their report in June 2016. The report includes detailed recommendations for harassment prevention, including effective policies to reduce and eliminate harassment and recommendations for targeted outreach and future research.

EEOC launched four digital services making it easier and more efficient for employers and employees to access EEOC's services. EEOC's Respondent Portal allows employers to receive digital notices of charges and to submit online responses. Charging parties and employers can confidentially check the status of charges online saving them and the agency significant time. Another innovation allows federal agencies to transmit hearings and appeals files securely to EEOC through the Federal Sector EEO Portal (FedSEP). In addition, members of the public can now make online requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

EEOC consistently ranked among the top medium-sized agencies in OPM's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). EEOC garnered some of the largest score increases on both the Employee Engagement Index and the Inclusiveness Quotient (IQ) Index. Agency leadership has undertaken a comprehensive effort to heighten communication and transparency, invest in employees, foster inclusive workplaces, and strengthen the engagement and productivity of EEOC's employees.

EEOC updated and approved its Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2021- a critical blueprint guiding the agency's work for the next five years.

In reflecting on these and the many other accomplishments of fiscal year 2016, EEOC acknowledges the unwavering commitment of EEOC staff, the courageous workers who seek justice in the face of discrimination, and employers who lead the way to opening the doors to equal opportunity.

The Commission looks forward to the year ahead as EEOC continues to craft lasting solutions that advance opportunity for all.