The EEOC’s 2022 Annual Performance Report Touts $513.7 Million In Worker Recoveries

By Alex W. Karasik, Gerald L. Maatman, Jr. and Jennifer A. Riley

Duane Morris Takeaways: On March 13, 2023, the EEOC published its fiscal year 2022 Annual Performance Report (FY 2022 APR), highlighting the Commission’s recovery of $513.7 million in monetary relief for more than 38,000 victims of employment discrimination, including nearly $40 million as a direct result of litigation resolutions.

This annual publication from the EEOC is noteworthy for employers in terms of recognizing the EEOC’s reach, understanding financial exposure for workplace discrimination claims, and identifying areas where the EEOC may focus its litigation efforts in the coming year. It is a must read for corporate counsel, HR professional, and business leaders.

FY 2022 Statistical Highlights

The EEOC’s recovery of $513.7 million in monetary relief represents a solid increase from the $485 million in monetary relief that it secured in FY 2021. More noteworthy is that the Commission secured monetary relief on behalf of 38,000 alleged victims in FY 2022, which is more than double the amount from FY 2021, when monetary relief was recovered on behalf of 15,000 alleged victims. This suggests that more complainants are being made whole through the EEOC’s litigation and alternative dispute resolution efforts.

Approximately $342 million was recovered for more than 33,298 victims of employment discrimination in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through mediation, conciliation, and settlements. Furthermore, $39.7 million was recovered for 1,461 individuals as a direct result of litigation resolutions. Notably, the EEOC indicated it successfully resolved 44% of its conciliations, and among those successes, 43.1% involved one or more Strategic Enforcement Plan priority areas. The EEOC also conducted 6,578 successful mediations, resulting in $170.4 million in benefits for charging parties.

In terms of charge intake, the EEOC reported 73,485 new discrimination charges, an increase of nearly 20% compared to fiscal year 2021. This statistic suggest workers are increasingly more apt to turn to the Commission to resolve workplace discrimination disputes.

Finally, the EEOC filed 91 lawsuits in FY 2022 on behalf of 53 individuals, including 25 non-systemic suits with multiple victims, and 13 systemic suits involving multiple victims or discriminatory policies. Approximately half of the EEOC’s newly filed lawsuits raised one or more the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan priorities.

Strategic Priorities

Addressing systemic discrimination has long been a top priority for the EEOC. In FY 2022, the EEOC resolved over 300 systemic investigations on the merits, obtaining more than $29.7 million in monetary benefits. The EEOC also resolved 10 systemic lawsuits, obtaining over $28 million in relief for nearly 1,300 individuals and significant equitable relief. To ensure the systemic lawsuit cupboard was not left bare, the EEOC filed 13 new systemic lawsuits.

Advancing racial justice was another strategic priority for the EEOC in FY 2022. The FY 2022 APR notes that the EEOC resolved 18 lawsuits alleging race or national origin discrimination, for approximately $4.6 million in relief, benefiting 298 individuals.  In addition, nine of the new 13 systemic lawsuits include claims of race or national origin discrimination. The EEOC also conducted 468 race and color outreach events, which reached 52,675 attendees. This includes 143 racial justice events reaching 9,064 attendees.

Finally, in recent years the EEOC has indicated that the use of artificial intelligence (“AI”) and algorithmic fairness in employment decisions is a strategic priority. In addition to providing AI training to systemic enforcement teams in the EEOC’s field offices, the EEOC hosted 24 AI and algorithmic fairness outreach events for 1,192 attendees. The EEOC’s efforts culminated with one lawsuit filing in this area. Finally, the EEOC prepared two ADA-related guidance publications relative to the use of artificial intelligence.

Other Notable Developments

Beyond touting its monetary successes, the FY 2022 APR also highlights the EEOC’s efforts in the community. The EEOC conducted 3,302 outreach and training events, providing more than 225,906 individuals nationwide with information about employment discrimination and their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Among these outreach programs were 399 events for small businesses, which were attend by approximately 18,878 individuals. Finally, 369 outreach events concerned the intersection of COVID-19 and employment discrimination laws. These COVID-19 programs had 26,041 attendees.

The EEOC also expanded its digital footprint, as the EEOC’s website had 10.8 million users. This marks a 3% increase over fiscal year 2021. There were 16 million user sessions, a 4.4% increase over fiscal year 2021. The EEOC had over 29 million page views, a 4.4% increase over fiscal year 2021, and there was a 3% increase in mobile traffic on the website. This data suggests that potential charging parties and other various constituents are more actively engaging with the Commission through its online platforms.

Takeaways For Employers

While the 2020 global pandemic may have slowed down the workforce developments and relatedly the EEOC for a few years, the FY 2022 APR suggests the EEOC is back to investigating and litigating employment discrimination claims in full gear. Employers should be mindful of these data points in terms of implementing and enforcing policies against employment discrimination.

We anticipate that the EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue its strategic priority areas, such as systemic discrimination, racial justice, artificial intelligence, and its underlying goal of providing access to justice for underrepresented groups of workers. We will continue to track EEOC litigation developments throughout the year.

DMCAR Trend #5 – Government Enforcement In 2022 Took A Back Seat

By Gerald L. Maatman, Jr. and Jennifer Riley

Duane Morris Takeaway: Over the past year, the Biden Administration continued to roll out changes on several fronts as it aimed to expand the rights, remedies, and procedural avenues available to workers. During 2022, such efforts fueled litigation. With its decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, 142 S.Ct. 2587 (2022), the U.S. Supreme Court imposed another hurdle to agency rule-making. Meanwhile, government enforcement litigation activity took a back seat.

Over the past two years, the U.S. Department of Labor, in particular, has continued to roll out worker-friendly rules that could have a cascading impact on workplace class actions, including rules designed to wipe out the pro-business policies of the Trump Administration. Such efforts continued on multiple fronts in 2022, including with respect to rules regarding businesses’ utilization of independent contractors and their use of the tip credit.

As to the former, effective January 6, 2021, the DOL during the Trump Administration adopted an Independent Contractor Rule that addressed the circumstances under which a worker qualifies as an independent contractor. The Rule arguably made it easier for companies, including companies operating in the gig economy, to utilize independent contractors. Although the DOL under the Biden Administration withdrew the Rule in May 2021, in March 2022, a federal district court in Texas found the DOL’s withdrawal of the Rule unlawful. Although the DOL appealed the decision in May 2022, it later abandoned the appeal and, instead, on October 13, 2022, the DOL issued a proposed new rule on independent contractor status. It described the proposed framework as “more consistent with longstanding judicial precedent” and stated that the DOL “believes the new rule [will] preserve essential worker rights and provide consistency for regulated entities.” The rule is likely to fuel further litigation in 2023 and have a cascading impact on the workplace class action landscape as it impacts litigation and potential recoveries.

The DOL’s efforts to regulate use of the tip credit have met similar controversy. The FLSA, at 29 U.S.C. § 203(m), permits an employer to use the tips received by tipped workers to satisfy a portion of its minimum wage obligation. In 1988, however, the DOL added a rule (the 80/20 Rule) to its Field Operations Handbook that purported to require employers to pay employees at the full minimum wage rate for time spent performing non-tip-producing tasks that exceeded 20% of their workweek. Multiple courts attempted to apply this guidance so as to require employers to separate tasks performed by tipped workers into categories of tip-producing, non-tip-producing, and unrelated tasks, and the ensuring litigation over these issues has plagued the hospitality industry, in particular, over the past decade.

In November 2018, the DOL under the Trump Administration issued an opinion letter withdrawing the 80/20 Rule and, in February 2019, it amended the Field Operations Handbook to include a “reasonable time” standard, explaining that “an employer of an employee who has significant non-tip related duties which are inextricably intertwined with [his or her] tipped duties should not be forced to account for the time that employee spends doing those intertwined duties.” In December 2020, the DOL issued the Tip Regulations Final Rule. After twice delaying the effective date of the Final Rule, on October 23, 2021, the DOL under the Biden Administration withdrew and replaced the Final Rule. In doing so, the DOL resurrected the 80/20 Rule and purported to limit the tip credit to non-tip-producing work that directly supports tip-producing work and does not exceed “a continuous period” of 30 minutes. The new rule went into effect on December 28, 2021. In 2022, the Restaurant Law Center and Texas Restaurant Association filed suit seeking to invalidate the new final rule. On February 22, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas denied their much-watched emergency motion seeking to enjoin nationwide enforcement of the new final rule but did not issue a ruling on the merits, and the appeal remains pending in the Fifth Circuit. The results are apt to fuel additional litigation in 2023.

The ultimate result is apt to elucidate the limits of agency rule-making authority and test the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, 142 S.Ct. 2587 (2022). In that case, the Supreme Court considered the validity of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule that was promulgated under Clean Air Act (CAA). It held that, under the major questions doctrine, the agency must point to “clear congressional authorization” for the authority it claims. The government failed to offer such authorization, instead pointing to a “vague statutory grant” that the Supreme Court found “not close to the sort of clear authorization required by our precedents.” Id. at 2614.

The changing tide of the Biden Administration’s policies has been slow to impact other areas. Whereas the DOL acted swiftly to reverse course on many fronts, over most of the past year, the EEOC continued to operate with a Trump-appointed majority of commissioners.

During 2022, however, the EEOC continued to operate with a Trump-appointed majority of commissioners.  Although President Biden quickly named two Democrats for the five-member Commission, Charlotte E. Burrows and Jocelyn Samuels, as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, the commission retained a Republican-appointed majority until former chair Janet Dhillon’s resignation on November 18, 2022. Although such expiration opened the door to a Democratic-appointed majority, the Senate has not yet confirmed a replacement.

As the DOL continued efforts to work an about-face on the rule-making front, the EEOC’s year-over-year activity remained fairly steady. During fiscal year 2022, the EEOC filed 94 lawsuits. The EEOC’s year-over-year activity remained fairly steady.  During fiscal year 2022, the EEOC filed 94 lawsuits, including 92 merits lawsuits and two subpoena enforcement actions.  This number marked a significant decrease from the filings during fiscal year 2021, when the EEOC filed 124 lawsuits, including 116 merits lawsuits. This year’s filing data more closely resembles fiscal year 2020, when the EEOC filed 97 total lawsuits, including 93 merits lawsuits.

Notably, the EEOC’s California district offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles combined for 13 filings this past year, which is identical to the combined 13 cases they filed in fiscal year 2021.

According to the EEOC, it filed 13 systemic lawsuits this past year, the same number it filed during fiscal year 2021.  The EEOC reported that it has 29 pending systemic cases, which accounted for 16% of the EEOC’s docket in fiscal year 2021. This data has not yet been published for fiscal year 2022.

In contrast, by the end of FY 2018, the EEOC had 71 systemic cases on its active docket, two of which included over 1,000 victims, and systemic cases accounted for 23.5% of its active lawsuits in that year, likely reflecting a stalling in the ability of its Democratic-appointment members to push this aspect of the EEOC’s agenda.

Comparing its monetary recovery to previous years, the EEOC recovered $535.5 million in all types of cases in FY 2020, $486 million in FY 2019, and $505 million in FY 2018.

In sum, whereas companies continued to see pro-business rules promulgated by the Trump Administration withdrawn and overwritten in 2022, courts continued to impose hurdles to agency rulemaking, the success of which will continue to be seen in 2023. Enforcement activity remained steady as political appointments remain pending.

Employers are apt to see increased activity in 2023 as the EEOC in particular gains its full component of Biden appointees and can exercise its majority power to advance its agenda.


Key Takeaways From The EEOC’s Draft Strategic Enforcement Plan For 2023-2027

By Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., Jennifer A. Riley, and Alex W. Karasik

Duane Morris Takeaways: On January 10, 2023, the EEOC published a draft of its proposed Strategic Enforcement Plan (“SEP”) for Fiscal Years 2023-2027. While the draft SEP was only released for public comment and is not yet final, a reading of the tea leaves suggests that a handful of subjects will be squarely on the EEOC’s radar for the next four years, including: (1) discrimination stemming from the use of artificial intelligence in hiring; (2) preventing and remedying systemic harassment; (3) equal pay obligations; and (4) various categories relating to emerging areas where protections are needed, protecting vulnerable workers, and providing access to justice.

The EEOC’s Strategic Priorities

  1. Artificial Intelligence 

While the EEOC’s focus on eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is not a new phenomenon, employers’ increasing use of artificial intelligence in hiring has added a new wrinkle in this space. The SEP specifically notes that the EEOC will focus “on the use of automated systems, including artificial intelligence or machine learning, to target job advertisements, recruit applicants, or make or assist in hiring decisions where such systems intentionally exclude or adversely impact protected group.” Id. at 9. The Commission adds that it will monitor screening tools or requirements that disproportionately impact workers based on their protected status, including those facilitated by artificial intelligence or other automated systems, pre-employment tests, and background checks. Finally, the EEOC notes that it will keep an eye on restrictive application processes or systems, including online systems that are difficult for individuals with disabilities or other protected groups to access.

Employers who utilize artificial intelligence in the hiring process should take heed. The EEOC listed this category first in terms of subject matter priorities. Given the Commission’s implied skepticism in regards to the impact of automated hiring software, now is the time for employers to vet their systems and make sure they are legally compliant.

  1. Systemic Harassment

Preventing and remedying systemic discrimination has long been a cornerstone priority for the EEOC. The EEOC Commissioners appointed by different presidential administrations have taken varying approaches to tackling discrimination on a systemic level, but regardless, the EEOC always has its eyes open for instances where there is widespread discriminatory practices at a company. The SEP makes clear that “[h]arassment remains a serious workplace problem,” noting that over 34% of the charges of employment discrimination the EEOC received between FY 2017 and FY 2021 included an allegation of harassment. Id. at 14. The SEP labels this a potential systemic issue, noting that a claim by an individual or small group may fall within this priority if it is related to a widespread pattern or practice of harassment. The EEOC indicates it will combat this problem by focusing on strong enforcement with appropriate monetary relief and targeted equitable relief to prevent future harassment.

While isolated incidents of harassment at largescale organizations may seem inevitable, the SEP’s declaration of this priority suggests employers need to pay closer attention to claims of harassment. If the EEOC senses that harassment is part of the fabric of an organization’s culture, such a situation could be ripe for a systemic discrimination claim. Accordingly, employers should take each individual claim of harassment seriously, and should consistently work to eradicate such behavior from the workplace.

  1. Equal Pay

The SEP makes clear that equal pay, and gender pay differences in particular, will continue to be a focus for the EEOC. The SEP notes that “[b]ecause many workers do not know how their pay compares to their coworkers’ and, therefore, are less likely to discover and report pay discrimination, the Commission will continue to use directed investigations and Commissioner Charges, as appropriate, to facilitate enforcement.” Id. at *13. Transparency appears to be a key component of this strategic priority, as the EEOC opines that pay secrecy policies, retaliating against workers for asking about pay or sharing their pay with coworkers, reliance on past salary history to set pay, and requiring applicants to specify their desired or expected salary at the application stage will all be areas of concern.

Pay audits should be a consistent practice for employers. If they are not, the EEOC’s inclusion of this priority in its SEP suggests that the Commission will aggressively investigate such claims and ask employers to produce data. Employers can best avoid the time and cost-draining exercises of producing pay data by proactively examining their compensation practices up front.

  1. Additional Priorities

The remaining three subject matter priorities include: (1) addressing emerging and developing issues; (2) protecting vulnerable workers; and (3) providing access to justice. In regards to emerging issues, the SEP seeks to address discrimination that is influenced by local, national and global events, such as pandemic-related discrimination and incidents of targeting various racial and religious groups. The SEP also seeks enhanced protections for vulnerable workers, such as migrant workers, disabled people, older workers, teenaged workers, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Finally, the SEP seeks to focus on policies and practices that limit substantive rights, discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or impede the EEOC’s investigative or enforcement efforts. For example, this priority includes practices that deter or prohibit filing charges with the EEOC or cooperating freely in EEOC investigations or litigation.

In sum, these additional priorities are geared towards flexibly adopting to the evolving needs of the workforce, to make sure all individuals have uninhibited access to justice.

Implications For Employers

The EEOC’s SEP is an important publication for employers since it previews areas where companies may be targeted for investigations. While the 2023-2027 SEP is currently in draft form, we do not anticipate that there will be any significant overhaul, particularly in regards to the strategic priorities that are analyzed in this blog post. Accordingly, prudent employers should be mindful of these strategic priorities, and get a head-start on compliance if they have not already done so.

What Employers Should Know About The EEOC’s Draft Strategic Plan For FY 2022-2026

By Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., Jennifer A. Riley, Rebecca S. Bjork, and Gregory Tsonis

Duane Morris Takeaways: On November 4, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a preliminary draft of its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan.  According to its preliminary draft, the EEOC plans to focus its internal operations over the next four years to make changes that it hopes will improve its performance securing targeted injunctive relief and conducting systemic investigations, along with its use of technology to process charges and conciliate them.  The four-year plan – which is distinct from the EEOC’s strategic enforcement plan, still to be released in the coming months – was published in the Federal Register and is open for comment until December 4, 2022.  Even if employers do not submit comments, they would be well-advised to review the draft and final Plan once it is announced because it provides a window into the EEOC Commissioners’ thinking for how the agency will use its resources to redress and deter workplace discrimination.   


Every four years, the EEOC prepares a Strategic Plan that drives how it will improve its internal operations to better enforce federal anti-discrimination laws.  The Plan for 2022-2026 that has now been published in the Federal Register is important because once it is finalized after the review and comment period expires, it will set forth specific goals along with performance metrics to measure how well those goals are being met.  The key elements of the draft Plan and why they are important are critical data points for employers.

Operational Improvements And Performance Metrics Sought By The EEOC

The 2022-2026 Strategic Plan draft signals that when investigating private sector employers, the EEOC will focus its internal operations on four key areas.  First, the EEOC will ensure that by FY 2025, “90% of EEOC conciliations and litigation resolutions contain targeted, equitable relief and that level is maintained through FY 2026.”  (Draft Strategic Plan at 15.)  The draft Plan explains the EEOC’s view that such a goal likely would improve compliance with the statutes enforced by the agency nationwide.

Second, between FY 2022 and 2026, the EEOC aims to continue to “favorably resolve at least 90% of enforcement lawsuits.”  (Id. at 16.)  On this point, the EEOC explains that because its systemic litigation program is resource intensive, this goal is important to enable the agency to use its resources in a wise and efficient manner.  Employers who have faced systemic lawsuits are well-aware of the amount of litigation resources they can consume, both for the companies involved and the EEOC.

Third, “In each year through FY 2026, the EEOC will provide training to all field staff on identifying and investigating systemic discrimination, and at least 90% of investigators and trial attorneys will participate in systemic training each year.”  (Id.)  The draft Plan explains that the purpose of this goal is “expanding the EEOC’s capacity to conduct systemic investigations, resulting in a coordinated, strategic, and effective approach to systemic enforcement.”  (Id.)  This likely signals that the draft Strategic Enforcement Plan will continue to emphasize and prioritize the EEOC’s use of pattern or practice lawsuits to enforce the statutes over which Congress gave it authority.

Fourth, “the EEOC will make significant progress toward enhanced monitoring of conciliation agreements, leading to a more robust compliance program.”  (Id. at 17.)  The Commission’s focus here is to implement “streamlined and standardized procedures, improved tracking and internal reporting mechanisms, and related training for EEOC field staff” to ensure that conciliation agreements are reached and enforced.  (Id.).

Finally, the EEOC continues to be aware that its charge intake process needs work.  The draft Plan pledges to leverage technological advancements to “enhance its intake services to potential charging parties, respondents, and representatives.”  (Id. at 19.)

Implications For Employers

The EEOC’s FY 2022-2026 draft Strategic Plan is a document that provides insight into the direction the agency will take to improve how it functions.

With a nod the old E.F. Hutton TV commercial, “when the EEOC speaks, employers should listen…”

Don’t Mess With Texas: Federal Judge Rules That The EEOC’s Guidance On LGBTQ Employees And Bostock Is Invalid

By: Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., Jennifer A. Riley, and Rebecca S. Bjork 

Duane Morris Takeaways: On October 1, 2022, in Texas v. EEOC, No. 21-CV-194 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 1, 2022), Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the EEOC’s guidance on Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S.Ct. 1731 (2021), was invalid and unlawful. The EEOC’s guidance sought to delineate workplace protections for LGBTQ employees relative to general workplace policies, including obligations related to dress codes, use of bathrooms, and preferred pronouns. The Court agreed with the legal challenge mounted by the State of Texas over the Commission’s guidance. While the final chapter on these issues is far from written, employers should consider the ruling in Texas v. EEOC as part of a broader analysis of EEOC workplace regulations and the ever expanding array of issues involving appropriate workplace personnel policies.

The EEOC’s Guidance

On June 15, 2021, the Commission issued guidance on its interpretation of Bostock on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling. Bostock, in a 6 to 3 decision, held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The EEOC’s guidance on Bostock – which can be accessed here – asserted that employers were obligated to accommodate LGBTQ employees regarding dress codes, use of identifying pronouns, and bathrooms and locker rooms. Critics of the Commission claimed that the guidance went far beyond the holding in Bostock and constituted impermissible rulemaking.

The Legal Challenge Of Texas

In what only can be deemed an extraordinary legal challenge, the Texas Attorney General sued the EEOC and sought declaratory and injunctive relief to invalidate the EEOC’s guidance and enjoin its enforcement and implementation. The lawsuit also challenged an analogous set of regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). After rulings on procedural issues, Texas brought a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that: (i) the guidance of both agencies was inconsistent with the law; (ii) was arbitrary and capricious; and (iii) constituted improper rulemaking without following applicable notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).

The Court’s Decision

Judge Kacsmarky agreed with Texas, rejected the positions of the EEOC and the HHS, and granted summary judgment against the agencies.

The key aspect of the decision focused on the reach of Bostock. Judge Kacsmarky opined that the U.S. Supreme Court confined its ruling to a holding that Title VII banned workplace bias due to an employee’s “homosexual or transgender status.” Id. at 6. In analyzing Bostock, Judge Kacsmarky determined that the EEOC and the HHS misread the Supreme Court’s opinion.  Id. at 7-14. He held that Bostock did not extend to “correlated conduct,” such as dress, bathrooms, use of pronouns, or healthcare practices. Id. at 4.

Based on this reasoning, Judge Kacsmarky ruled that the EEOC and HHS violated Title VII and the APA by issuing what he deemed the equivalent of substantive, legislative rules through improper procedures. As a remedy, he declared the guidance unlawful, set it aside, and awarded attorneys’ fees and costs to Texas.

Implications For Employers

The ruling in Texas v. EEOC reflects a judicial finding that the Commission acted inappropriately in attempting to push the legal envelope in terms of how Bostock should be read to obligate employers to accommodate LGBTQ employees in the workplace. That said, the ruling is unlikely to shut down the Commission’s efforts to push for expansive interpretations of the boundaries of Title VII. Employers can expect the Commission to pursue other test cases and litigate over the interpretation of Bostock for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the Commission is apt to appeal the ruling in Texas v. EEOC to the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit. Stay tuned!


The EEOC Is At It Again: FY 2022 Finishes Off With September Surge Of Filings

By: Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., Jennifer A. Riley, and Alex W. Karasik

Duane Morris Takeaways: In FY 2022, September was a busy month for EEOC-Initiated litigation. In FY 2021, the EEOC’s litigation enforcement activity showed signs of recovering from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and the total number of case filings increased from the low of 33 in 2020, giving rise to what was anticipated to be a very busy FY 2022. True to its pre-COVID history, the EEOC ended its year with a surge of last-minute lawsuits.

This year, there were 39 lawsuits filed during September as of the publishing of this blog post (down from the 59 filed in September of FY 2021, however, it constituted a significant increase from 2020).

Cases Filed By EEOC District Offices

In addition to tracking the total number of filings, we closely monitor which of the EEOC’s 15 district offices are most actively filing new cases this September. Some districts tend to be more aggressive than others, and some focus on different case filing priorities. The following chart shows the number of lawsuit filings by EEOC district office.

The most noticeable trend of FY 2022 is the filing dip in some key regions compared to past years. The New York district office had 6 filings in FY 2021 and only 2 in 2022. The California district offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, which combined for 13 new filings last year, declined in FY 2022, falling to only 4 total filings, including San Francisco’s fall from 6 to 1. The Indianapolis district office was in the middle of the pack with 4 filings this year. Philadelphia led the way in FY 2022 with a total of 7 filings. Miami and Phoenix also had 4 each, Memphis had 3, and Dallas, Houston, and St. Louis all had 2 total filings.

Analysis Of The Types Of Lawsuits Filed In FY 2022

We also analyzed the types of lawsuits the EEOC filed throughout the month, in terms of the statutes and theories of discrimination alleged, in order to determine how the EEOC is shifting its strategic priorities.

When considered on a percentage basis, the distribution of cases filed by statute in September remained roughly consistent compared to FY 2021 and FY 2020. Title VII cases once again made up the majority of cases filed, making up 69% of all filings (a bit higher than the 62% in FY 2021 and 60% in FY 2020). ADA cases also made up a significant percentage of the EEOC’s September filings, totaling 18%, although down from the 36% in FY 2021. There were also 3 ADEA cases filed in September, after only one age discrimination case filed in the entire FY 2021.

The graphs below show the number of lawsuits filed according to the statute under which they were filed (Title VII, Americans With Disabilities Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Equal Pay Act, and Age Discrimination in Employment Act) and, for Title VII cases, the theory of discrimination alleged.

March 2022 Release Of Enforcement Statistics

On March 28, 2022, the EEOC released its fiscal year 2023 budget justification and fiscal year 2021 performance report (“APR”). The APR is a review of the results of the EEOC’s litigation goals and performance from FY 2021 and the FY 2023 budget describes how funds will be allocated. The EEOC put out a proposed 2023 budget of $464,650,000.

FY 2021 APR

The APR described a successful year in the EEOC’s eyes in terms of delivering on its strategic initiatives, including securing $485 million in monetary relief for over 15,000 alleged victims of employment discrimination, resolving a total of 138 merit lawsuits, reducing the inventory of appellate cases by 9.1%, and have a significant percentage of its resolutions in district courts achieve a “favorable result.” Comparing the monetary recovery to previous years, the EEOC recovered $535.5 million in FY 2020, $486 million in FY 2019, and $505 million in FY 2018.

The EEOC also continued working towards its goals in community outreach, education, and technical assistance, and hired predominate front-line positions.

FY 2023 Budget Justification

Moving into 2023, the EEOC’s budget constitutes a $60.160 million increase from 2021, and focuses on three key areas including providing racial justice and eliminating systemic discrimination of all protected bases, pay equity, and the civil rights impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EEOC also announced three new programs, including the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity (HIRE), which aims to expand employment opportunities as the nation recovers from the pandemic; a joint anti-retaliation initiative with the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board; and an initiative to ensure that employment-related artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making tools comply with federal civil rights laws.

Key Employer Takeaways

FY 2022 was a year of new leadership and structural changes at the EEOC. With a vastly increased proposed budget, it is more crucial than ever for employers to take heed in regards to the EEOC’s strategic priorities and enforcement agendas.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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