If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that this is my absolute favorite time of the year.

No, it’s not Thanksgiving (though we should give thanks as I’ll explain in a second). But rather, it’s the release of the Annual Case Processing Report from the CHRO! 

Yes, we should give thanks to the CHRO for putting this out.   It really is helpful to understand some trends and to see how the CHRO’s statutes are being put into practice.

But before we look at this year’s numbers, you should probably read my post from last year to get your bearings.  When last we checked, sexual harassment claims were up, employment discrimination claims were up, and cases withdrawn with settlement were down.

So what trends does the report for 2018-2019 show? Here’s what stands out.

  • Sexual Harassment claims continue to rise and are now at their highest numbers in the last 20 years. In 2017/18, there were 235 claims file. Last year? 279. Representing a nearly 20 percent increase in just one year.  To put this into perspective, compare this number to 2015/16.  In that year, just 135 claims were filed — meaning we’ve seen an over 100 percent increase in claims in just 3 years.  The #metoo movement is the obvious difference.
  • Overall, employment discrimination claims actually dropped last year from 2091 to 2028.  The drop is obviously even more remarkable when you account for the 20 percent rise in sexual harassment claims.  Trying to find the root cause isn’t readily apparent on first glance.  Employment discharge claims are actually up last year from 1188 to 1245 and terms and conditions claims are also up from 902 to 1018.  In fact, a lot of categories are up such as retaliation and harassment too.  The general conclusion? People are filing “kitchen sink” complaints listing multiple issues but the number of complaints is just down overall.
  • The CHRO is also closing more cases.  In 2018/19, the agency closed 2089 cases versus 2001 in the prior fiscal year.  Withdrawals with settlements are up substantially as part of that – suggesting that the agency is either more effectively using the mandatory mediation process or the parties are just more inclined to settle.
  • Case Assessment Review (CAR) is now real. It wasn’t that long ago that I had a discussion with CHRO personnel about the flaws in the CAR process.   This was important because an effective CAR process means employers don’t have to go through a costly mediation and fact-finding process; the cases get dismissed early on.  But what a change a few years makes. Back in 2014/15, just 131 cases were dismissed using the old Merit Assessment Review process.  In 2018/19? 434 claims — approximately 20 percent of all claims filed – were dismissed using the new CAR process.  That’s obviously a massive shift.  I’ll use a future post to talk more about this.

I’ll continue to do a deep dive on the numbers and share more analysis as warranted. In the interim, feel free to join us at our free webinar next week. The timing is perfect – we’ll be talking about strategies for employers in dealing with the CHRO.