EEOC Releases Workplace Discrimination Data for 2020

By Douglas Lipsky

In March, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released statistics of workplace discrimination charges the agency received in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, which ended on Sept. 30, 2020.

While the EEOC plays a crucial role in enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, the data shows that workplace discrimination continues to be a pervasive problem in the U.S. If you believe that your employment rights have been violated, talk to an employment lawyer

What does the EEOC FY 2020 show?

The EEOC received 67, 884 charges in FY 2020; the breakdown of claims received is as follows:

  • Retaliation: 37,632 claims (55.8 percent)
  • Disability: 24,324 (36.1 percent) 
  • Race: 22,064 (32.7 percent)
  • Sex: 21,398 (31.7 percent)
  • Age: 14,183 (21.0 percent)
  • National Origin: 6,377 (9.5 percent)
  • Color: 3,562 (5.35 percent)
  • Religion: 2,404 (3.6 percent)
  • Equal Pay Act: 980 (1.5 percent)
  • Genetic Information: 440 (0.7 percent)

It is important to note that these figures add up to more than 100 percent because many of the charges filed with the EEOC involved multiple biases (e.g. race and sex, age, and disability). 

In any event, retaliation accounts for 55.8 percent of charges, which means that workers who filed complaints through their employer’s internal processes often fare poorly, despite the fact that retaliation is prohibited by federal and state law. 

The EEOC also reported that it secured $439.2 million for claimants in FY 2020: $332. 2 million through administration processes (e.g. mediation, conciliation, settlements) and $106 million through litigation. The total amount secured by the EEOC is an increase over the prior two fiscal years despite the fact that the total number of charges declined for the third consecutive year.

At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the EEOC to revamp some of its procedures (the agency temporarily suspended issuing charge closure documents in March 2020), which may have contributed to the decline in charges filed in FY 2020. 

“EEOC advances opportunity for all of our nation’s workers and plays a critical role in ensuring justice in the American workplace,” said 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.”

The Takeaway

Though the EEOC is tasked with enforcing federal employment laws, pursuing a claim can be complicated. And, as the data shows, filing a complaint about discrimination or harassment with an employer poses the risk of retaliation. Ultimately, the best way for victims of workplace discrimination to protect their rights is to consult with an experienced employment lawyer.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.