EEOC Issues 2009 Enforcement and Litigation Statistics

The EEOC has issued its 2009 enforcement and litigation statistics here. Total charges were down from 2008, 95,402 to 93,277. Largest percentage increases in charges were in disability and retaliation. Lawsuits filed down from 325 to 314. More after the break.

The EEOC’s congressional 2010 budget justification document highlights the agency’s priorities for the upcoming year:

C. Chair’s Priorities

Since the establishment of the EEOC in 1965, much progress has been made in reducing illegal discrimination in the American workplace. Yet discrimination continues to be a substantial problem for too many people in America. Significant work remains to be done.

A key for the EEOC to be successful is a strong law enforcement and litigation program. Concrete steps will be taken to restore capacity to effectively investigate charges and litigate cases. While past EEOC focus has primarily been on individual cases of discrimination, the agency has stated its bipartisan desire to shift emphasis to combating systemic discrimination. A strong systemic program is crucial to battling unlawful patterns or practices of discrimination which have a broad impact on an industry, profession, company, or geographic location.

Recently enacted legislation will improve the EEOC’s law enforcement capability. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 restores the long standing EEOC position that discriminatory compensation decisions or other unlawful practices occur each time compensation is paid. We expect more charges to be filed as a result of this Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008 restores congressional intent of the original ADA, and directs us to construe the term “disability” broadly. We will issue regulations interpreting the Act as well as conduct outreach activities to educate the public. We anticipate that in fiscal year 2010, more than 5,000 charges will be filed which will result in a significant increase to our workload.

In addition, we will address the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) of 2008, which prohibits public and private employers from using genetic information in making employment decisions. The Commission will provide training programs and technical advice and assistance regarding GINA and its implementing regulations that we will issue in 2009.

Finally, the EEOC will utilize outreach efforts with stakeholder organizations on particular workplace issues or topics in the race context. Additionally, through our enforcement and litigation efforts, we will pursue charges for priority, novel or emerging legal issues in the context of race discrimination.

We have highlighted in bold several areas of focus that we find significant, in part because they are not defined. For example, what “novel or emerging legal issues in the context of race discrimination” will the EEOC be focusing on?