EEOC: Retaliation Most Frequently Alleged Claim in 2020

Author: Emily Scace, XpertHR Legal Editor

March 3, 2021

Over half of all charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in fiscal year (FY) 2020 alleged retaliation, the agency announced in a summary of its 2020 enforcement and litigation data.

Retaliation was claimed in 56 percent of all charges filed in FY 2020. Disability discrimination was the second most common, alleged in 36 percent of charges, with race discrimination (33 percent), sex discrimination (32 percent) and age discrimination (21 percent) rounding out the top five. National origin, color, religion, Equal Pay Act, and genetic information claims appeared in smaller numbers of charges.

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse action against an individual - such as firing, demoting, or reducing pay or hours - for engaging in protected activity, including:

  • Filing a charge of discrimination or harassment,
  • Participating in an employment discrimination proceeding, or
  • Requesting a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability.

Thirty-six percent of the charges the EEOC received in FY 2020 alleged harassment. Of that group, 27 percent alleged sexual harassment, while 82 percent alleged harassment on another basis, such as race or religion. Seventeen percent of sexual harassment charges were filed by men.

Overall, the EEOC resolved 70,804 charges in FY 2020, which resulted in a total of $439.2 million in compensation for victims of workplace discrimination secured through litigation and voluntary resolutions. The numbers add up to more than 100 percent because charges can include multiple claims or allege more than one type of harassment.

"EEOC advances opportunity for all of our nation's workers and plays a critical role in ensuring justice in the American workplace," said recently appointed EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. "Despite an incredibly challenging year, the EEOC's dedicated workforce advanced the agency's mission to fight employment discrimination on all fronts."