EEOC: Slight Decline in Discrimination Charges for 2005

February 10, 2006

Discrimination charges filed with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against private sector employers declined last year by 5 percent, the agency reported as part of its Fiscal Year 2005 data. EEOC officials cited the agency’s aggressive outreach and training efforts as a possible factor in the charge decrease.

Charges filed at EEOC field offices throughout the country totaled 75,428 for FY 2005, which ended Sept. 30, continuing a three-year decrease. Meanwhile, the agency last year held a record 5,516 outreach, education, and technical assistance events nationwide, reaching more than 350,000 people. These events covered laws enforced by the agency, as well as its major initiatives: Freedom to Compete, Youth@Work, and the President’s New Freedom Initiative.

“We are pleased to see that our proactive prevention efforts may be having an impact on the decrease in charges,” EEOC Chair Cari Dominguez said. She noted that other factors may also have played a part, including the economic cycle. Chair Dominguez stressed the Commission’s balanced approach of promoting voluntary compliance and strongly enforcing anti-discrimination laws.

The FY 2005 data also showed increases in merit resolutions, monetary benefits and lawsuits:

* Charge Resolutions – Resolved 77,352 private sector discrimination charges, 21.5% of which were closed with a favorable outcome for the charging party (merit resolution). The average charge processing time was 171 days.
* Mediation – Resolved 7,908 cases through the agency’s National Mediation Program, with an average resolution time of 81 days, and increased the number of “Universal Agreements to Mediate” with employers at the national, regional, and local levels.
* Monetary Benefits – Obtained nearly $380 million in monetary relief for charging parties through enforcement and litigation combined, including a record $271.6 million at the pre-litigation stage (including $115 million through mediation).
* Litigation – Filed 383 merits lawsuits (direct suits, interventions, and conciliation agreement enforcement actions), resolved 337 merits suits, and obtained $107.7 million in litigation monetary benefits. Of the total litigation activity, 139 suits were filed and 116 suits resolved that involved multiple aggrieved parties or victims of discriminatory actions.

The FY 2005 data is available on the agency’s Web site at The year-end statistics show that charges based on race, sex and retaliation were the most frequent filings. While the number of charge filings decreased, there was little change in the percentage of all bases of discrimination alleged when compared to the agency’s total caseload (individuals may allege multiple types of discrimination in one charge filing). The FY 2005 charge filings break down as follows:

* Race – 26,740 charges (35.5% of all filings)
* Sex – 23,094 charges (30.6% of all filings)
* Retaliation – 22,278 charges (29.5% of all filings)
* Age -16,585 charges (22% of all filings)
* Disability – 14,893 (19.7% of all filings)
* National Origin – 8,035 (10.7% of all filings)
* Religion – 2,340 (3.1% of all filings)
* Equal Pay – 970 charges (1.3% of all filings)

Additionally, there were 12,679 sexual harassment charge filings and 4,449 pregnancy discrimination filings in FY 2005 with EEOC offices and state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (combined). Of the total number of sexual harassment charges, 14% were filed by men.

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