Author: Beth P. Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor

On January 28, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released fiscal year 2012 statistics on employment discrimination charges filed with the agency. Retaliation (37,836) was the most frequently filed claim, followed by race discrimination (33,512) and sex discrimination (30,356), which includes sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. Retaliation charges remain a top concern for employers and have since 2010, accounting for 38.1% of all charges in 2012.

While the actual number of private sector charges was slightly down (99,412) from fiscal year 2011, the EEOC recovered the most total money from private sector and state and local government employers through its administrative process - $365.4 million. The EEOC's mediation and conciliation program was also very successful, resolving 254 lawsuits for a total monetary recovery of $44.2 million.

The EEOC also released a new table showing the types of discriminatory actions alleged by statute. The most frequently claimed actions alleged under all statutes were discharge, terms and conditions of employment and harassment.

These statistics drive home the fact that employers must implement and enforce a zero tolerance policy and provide comprehensive supervisor and employee training for all types of discrimination and harassment, with a particular focus on retaliation, race discrimination and sex discrimination. It is critical for an employer to address any discrimination, harassment or retaliation claims before they escalate into an EEOC charge or lawsuit. Finally, employers should make sure that adverse employment decisions or changes to employment terms and conditions are based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons and not on protected characteristics.

Additional Resources

EEOC'S Recent Report Highlights Importance of Combating Workplace Discrimination

EEOC Approves Enforcement Priorities Through 2016

EEOC Settlements Indicate That Employers Pay Big for Sexual Harassment

Employee Management > EEO - Discrimination

Discrimination Policy

Retaliation Policy

Employee Management > EEO - Retaliation

Employee Management > Employee Discipline > Whistleblower Protections

Retaliation - Supervisor Briefing

Discrimination - Supervisor Briefing

Employee Management > EEO - Harassment

Harassment Policy