By Tommy Eden, Attorney
Retaliation Surpasses Race as Most Frequent Allegation; Agency Obtains $404 Million for Victims
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on January 11, 2011 that private sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the federal agency nationwide hit an unprecedented level of 99,922 during fiscal year (FY) 2010, which ended Sept. 30, 2010.
The federal agency ended FY 2010 with 86,338 pending charges - an increase of only 570 charges, or less than one percent. Between fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the EEOC's pending inventory increased 15.9 percent.
The FY 2010 data show that the EEOC filed 250 lawsuits, resolved 285 lawsuits, and resolved 104,999 private sector charges. Through its combined enforcement, mediation and litigation programs, the EEOC secured more than $404 million in monetary benefits from employers -- the highest level of monetary relief ever obtained by the Commission through the administrative process.
The FY 2010 enforcement and litigation statistics, which include trend data, are available online at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/index.cfm.
The FY 2010 data also show:
• The mediation program ended the year with a record 9,370 resolutions, 10 percent more than FY 2009 levels, and more than $142 million in monetary benefits;
• The agency continued its concerted effort to build a strong national systemic enforcement program. At the end of the fiscal year, 465 systemic investigations, involving more than 2,000 charges, were being undertaken;
Common Sense Counsel: Every employer in Alabama's to do list to avoid EEOC retaliation charges should include: 1) adopting an effective and legally defensible policy against unlawful retaliation; 2) ensuring that your employees have received a copy of the policy and signed an acknowledgment; 3) training supervisors in unlawful retaliation; 4) removing discharge authority from front-line supervisors; 5) conducting a through investigation of the facts and circumstances - including allowing the employee to tell their side of the events - before making the final discharge decision; 6) conducting exit interviews where you specifically question the employee as to whether they have any unresolved claims against the company and having them acknowledge on the exit interview form their answer; and 7) following systematic steps to ensure that each of your discharge decisions are legal and defensible.
Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Capell & Howard, P.C. and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-501-1540.