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EEOC Charges in Decline

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Have a strengthening economy and declining unemployment numbers led to a decline in EEOC charges?  The most recent data strongly suggests a correlation between a tight labor market and the number of EEOC charges.  This week the EEOC released statistics on charges filed in its most recent fiscal year ending September 30, 2017.  Here are a few notable trends on a nationwide and regional basis.

  • In the year preceding the metoo# moment, sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC declined to 6,696 charges.  In fact, the number of sexual harassment charges filed nationwide was the lowest in the last 8 years.  Watch whether the widespread media attention on sexual harassment over the last four months will lead to more charges in the current year.
  • Nationwide, there were 84,254 charges filed with the EEOC.  That is lowest number of charges filed in the last 10 years.  Nearly half, or 48.8%, of all charges included retaliation as part of the claim.  Nationwide, aside from retaliation, race discrimination was the leading category for the basis of the charge with nearly 33.9% of all charges filed alleging race discrimination.
  • Most states in the southwestern United States saw corresponding declines in the number of charges.  Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada saw the lowest number of charges filed in the last nine years.  Arizona had less than 2000 charges filed statewide last year for the first time in nearly a decade.
  • Other states in the southwest have also seen declines in the number of charges.  California had 5423 charges nearly 2000 less charges than five years ago.  Utah had only 264 charges in the most recent fiscal year, a small increase from the fiscal year ending in 2016 but a significant decline from charge filings a few years before.
  • The number of charges in Texas is more difficult to explain.  Charges have increased over 10% from fiscal year 2014 (8035 charges) to fiscal year 2017 (8827 charges) but the data reflects a decline over the last two years from 9539 charges in FY 2015.
  • Following a long-term trend, retaliation charges continue to dominate the landscape.  In California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah more than 50% of all charges contain a retaliation allegation.  Nevada led the pack with 57.1% of all charges alleging retaliation.  Arizona was not far behind with 48.2% of all charges alleging retaliation.
  • In the southwest, aside from retaliation, sex discrimination (including harassment) and disability discrimination were the leading bases for discrimination claims.  In Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, sex was the leading category for charges in those states.  Disability charges led the way in Arizona and California.  Similarly, in Utah, a remarkable 47% of all charges alleged disability discrimination.

The above data is from the EEOC’s reported statistics; it does not reflect charges filed with state and local fair employment practices agencies.