Number of EEOC Lawsuits Decline While Settlements Increase in 2019

By Douglas Lipsky

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed fewer lawsuits at the midpoint of its fiscal year, compared to the same period in FY 2018. At the same time, the settlements obtained thus far have increased by a substantial amount. This comes despite the fact that the EEOC has not had a full panel of commissioners in over two years. Nonetheless, the EEOC has continued its crackdown on sexual harassment and disability discrimination claims.

EEOC Lawsuits Filed in 2019

Between Oct. 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019, the agency filed 24 lawsuits, collecting $21 million in settlements. While nine fewer lawsuits have been filed in the current fiscal year than were filed at the mid-point of FY 2018, the settlements obtained thus far have yielded $7 million more.

Thus far, the EEOC has collected $5.3 million in six race discrimination-related settlements, which includes a $4.9 million settlement with the City of Jacksonville over firefighter promotional exams that were said to have a racially disparate impact on African Americans. The agency also settled 16 disability discrimination claims in the aggregate amount of $4.3 million. In addition, religious bias claims have yielded $4.9 million in connection with a settleent with United Parcel Service Inc to resolve allegations that UPS failed to promote workers who wore beards or long hair for faith-based reasons.

Sexual Harassment and Gender Bias Claims

As the EEOC continues to focus on sexual harassment in response to the #MeToo movement, the agency has filed nine sexual harassment lawsuits so far in FY 2019, collecting $2.1 million. The EEOC has also collected $2.3 million in four pregnancy discrimination claims, as well as more than $237,000 in four equal-pay claims. Finally, the agency pulled in another $3.8 million in sex discrimination claims, including a $3.6 million settlement on behalf of a class of female job applicants who were denied jobs at warehouses operated by Sherwood Food Distributors LLC.

In sum, lawsuits filed by the EEOC so far in 2019 demonstrate the agency’s continuing crackdown on harassment, disability discrimination, and job retaliation. In particular, there has been enhanced regulatory scrutiny in the restaurant industry in FY 2019, with five new lawsuits filed against restaurants.

Why This Matters

Despite the Trump Administration’s ongoing regulatory rollback, the EEOC has continued its push to enforce federal discrimination, harassment, and retaliation protections. At the same time, workers who believe that their employment rights have been violated also have powerful legal recourse to file lawsuits individually. If you believe you have been the victim of employment discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace, you should consult an experienced employment law attorney.

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.