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Will You Be Hearing from the EEOC in 2016

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 1/13/2016
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Should employers be concerned that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) achieved record enforcement results in 2015? Yes! Enforcement of federal equal employment opportunity laws is essentially a zero-sum game. If the EEOC is winning, employers must be losing, and according to the EEOC’s 2015 Performance Report, employers have been losing a lot.

In fiscal year 2015, the EEOC received 89,385 charges alleging employment discrimination and secured more than $525 million for victims of workplace discrimination, including:

  • $356.6 million for private sector employees secured through mediation, conciliation and other administrative enforcement efforts;
  • $65.3 million for charging parties obtained through litigation; and
  • $105.7 million for federal employees and applicants through federal sector processes.

The EEOC also became more efficient in 2015. Despite receiving more charge complaints last year (89,385) than in 2014 (88,778), there was a 6% increase in charge resolutions. In addition to resolving 155 discrimination lawsuits, the EEOC also filed 142 new lawsuits in 2015, including 100 individual suits and 42 suits involving multiple victims or discriminatory policies.

These numbers are likely to increase in 2016 since the EEOC has been rebuilding its workforce after a 3-year hiring freeze ended in mid-2014. In 2015, the EEOC hired over 100 new investigators and trained more than 1,000 employees about investigations, enforcement and litigation.

As part of its Strategic Enforcement Plan, the EEOC’s outreach programs reached 336,855 people during the year through thousands of no-cost educational and training events. These outreach programs targeted small businesses, vulnerable workers, underserved geographic areas and communities, and emphasized new statutory responsibilities, issues related to migrant workers, human trafficking and youth.

The 2015 Performance Report provides valuable insight into what employers should do to avoid an EEOC enforcement action in 2016. Employers must implement, diligently maintain and consistently enforce a workplace discrimination and harassment policy. Employees must also be trained to identify, prevent and address any unlawful behavior. Training should cover all relevant topics, such as employment liabilities, sexual harassment for managers and employees, discrimination and harassment prevention and disability discrimination.

These efforts can significantly reduce the chances of facing an EEOC enforcement action. Nevertheless, allegations of unlawful employment discrimination are easy to make. They can also be difficult and expensive to defend, so employers should consider employment practices liability insurance to help cover the costs.

Please contact us if you would like more information about implementing a workplace discrimination and harassment policy and training program. You can also receive regular news updates by subscribing to our Newsletter.

The Human Equation prepares all risk management and insurance content with the professional guidance of Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk.

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Categories: Human Resources, Risk Management

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8/11/2016 10:58:26 AM #

EEOC Clarifies Permissible Use of Incentives in Wellness Programs

EEOC Clarifies Permissible Use of Incentives in Wellness Programs

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