The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released its annual report of enforcement and litigation data for fiscal year 2018. The report provides a snapshot of employment discrimination law in the U.S. and often indicates trend lines, providing insight for employers on the breadth of employment discrimination claims.

A few notable statistics:

  • 76,418 – number of workplace discrimination charges received by the agency
  • $505 million – dollars paid by employers as a result of charges
  • 39,469 – number of retaliation charges filed (51.6% of all charges)
  • 24,605 – number of sex charges (32.3% of all charges)
  • 199 – number of merit lawsuits filed by the EEOC

Victoria A. Lipnic, EEOC Acting Chair, noted that “we cannot look back on last year without noting the significant impact of the #MeToo movement in the number of sexual harassment and retaliation charges filed with the agency.” The EEOC saw a 13.6 percent increase in sexual harassment charges from FY 2017.

EEOC critics often point to the agency’s lack of manpower and slow processing. Interestingly, “the agency reduced the charge workload by 19.5 percent … through deploying new strategies to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit, more quickly resolve investigations, and improve the agency’s digital systems.”

The report serves as a reminder to employers of just how prevalent claims of employment discrimination are. The number of retaliation charges should put employers on notice to be extra careful when an employee has complained of discrimination, even if informally. Employers should conduct annual training on discrimination and harassment for both employees and managers.