It’s sometimes easy to forget that the government shutdown has very real-world implications. Case in point? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

As of now, it’s closed.  The agency has even posted a notice about it on its’ website. 

That doesn’t mean that the time limits for filing a charge have been extended.   Generally, federal claims must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discrimination. As noted by the EEOC, “These time limits may not be extended because of the shut-down.”

The EEOC thus encourages employees considering filing claims “within 30 days of your time expiring” or unsure “your time expires”, to not wait to file.

For employers with matters at the EEOC, mediations have been cancelled.  It is unclear from the shutdown notice whether the EEOC will continue to press the time frames for submitting position statements, but given the lack of action on anything pressing, the agency would certainly seem amenable to having those deadlines extended.

Employers with specific questions though should certainly check with their counsel to see if their particular case warrants action.

The bottom line is that the backlog that existed at the EEOC will continue to grow because of this delay; mediations are going to get rescheduled and action is just going to take longer.

Stating the obvious: The longer the shutdown, the longer the delays.

The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities released a new set of statistics yesterday (my thanks to CHRO liaison James O’Neill for the update which I had requested a while back).  Unlike years past, the statistics this year show some dramatic changes; those changes should have a significant impact on how employers view the agency and the state of affairs in Connecticut.

  • First, the number of claims filed (which includes employment law claims as well as other types of discrimination — including housing) with the agency rose 16 percent for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014.  The claims rose from 1850 to 2146.  After years of modest decline, significantly more claims were filed in the last year.  What were the reasons for that increase? That remains to be seen.
  • To its’ credit, the CHRO continues to improve on its ratio of closed cases to open cases.  Last year the rate was 106%; it edged up slightly to 107%.  It closed 2303 cases (as compared with the 2146 cases it opened).  That means cases are less likely to linger at the agency.
  • But how those cases are being closed should be concerning to employers in some respects.  The agency dismissed just 97 cases on Merit Assessment Review (basically, the paper review after the parties submit their initial filings).  Compare that with over 800 cases closed on MAR review ten years ago.  That means a lot more cases are going to mediation and investigation and cases cost a lot more to defend than in past years.
  • And what else does that mean?  It means that more cases are also getting settled at the investigation stage.  935 cases were “withdrawn with a settlement” last year.  Compare that with just 481 over ten years ago.  For employers, even the cases that would be deemed as without merit years ago are getting some type of settlement now.  Again, an increase in costs for employers.

Unfortunately, the statistics don’t yet show how many cases were found to have “reasonable cause” to proceed to a public hearing, nor how many cases were the subject of early legal invention as well.

What’s interesting as well is that the increase is consistent with the increase in claims at the EEOC for claims filed in Connecticut as well.  Over the last five years, the number of EEOC claims in Connecticut has risen by 53 percent (from 191 charges to 294.)

I’ve previously covered the trends of such statistics in various posts for the last seven years, so it’s worth reviewing them (here, here and here for example) too to see the larger trends.

For employers who believed that the discrimination claims are a relic of history, the statistics show that such claims are alive and well.  And they are costing more in time and money than ten years ago.

 

Numbers everywhere

Every once in a while, it’s worth taking a look at statistics in the employment law arena to get a sense of trends with the law and what employers should focus on.For those that have been paying attention, retaliation claims are now the most filed type of charge filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee nationwide.In fiscal year 2012 (the last publicly available data), there were 99,412 charges filed (down from a peak of 99,922 in 2010).  Of those, 38.1% of charges were retaliation-based — up from just 22.6 percent in 1997.

Race discrimination claims — while up in terms of raw numbers from 15 years prior — are actually at their lowest levels percentage-wise in the last 15 years.  Instead, national origin claims and religion claims have each risen a few percentage points over the last 15 years — though even national origin claims seemed to have peaked in 2009.

Not surprisingly, in light of changes that were made to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2009, disability discrimination claims are up sharply the last few years from 14,893 claims in 2005 to 26,379 claims in 2012.

Equal Pay Act claims — which some people projected would increase dramatically after the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 — have remained fairly flat the last few years.  Up a little, but just by a few dozen.  Not enough to really move the needle on such claims.

In Connecticut, unfortunately, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has had issues with its computer system and hasn’t been able to update its statistics since 2010. 

(The EEOC does keep some statistics on claims are filed in Connecticut with the EEOC itself, but because those claims are typically investigated and handled through the CHRO, the EEOC statistics are really incomplete.)

But the CHRO statistics are hopefully coming soon.

Continue Reading Employment Law Statistics Tell Part of a Story; Still Waiting for CHRO

With statistics from the CHRO lacking, it’s hard to get a judge on whether claims of discrimination in Connecticut are rising or falling.

The EEOC released new statistics this week, however that shed a little bit of light on the subject, albeit with a fairly small sample size.

For FY 2011, the EEOC reported that 262 charges of discrimination were filed directly with the EEOC in Connecticut.  That is down from a high of 295 the year before.   Nationally, the number of claims filed hit a high of 99, 947 for the same period, up very slightly from the prior year.  

Not surprisingly, retaliation claims led the way with race discrimination claims.  Only one (!) GINA complaint was reportedly filed during this period as well.

You can check out all of the statistics here.  

News flash: Record snows in Connecticut! 

Second news flash: Record numbers of people are out of work and filing complaints of discrimination at the EEOC nationwide!

Here’s the thing with both news flashes: They’re not entirely unexpected.  Sure, they’re in higher amounts than we’re accustomed to seeing, but both can be explained. (I’ll leave it to the weather forecasters to take the snow angle.) 

I’ve previously discussed trends in EEOC charges and I don’t see much in these new numbers that changes that trend.

  • Retaliation claims are up significantly and have now surpassed race discrimination as the most-filed type of complaint.   
  • Nearly 100,000 complaints were filed by people, but the EEOC filed 250 lawsuits, resolved 285 lawsuits, and resolved 104,999 private sector charges.  On other words, the EEOC has seen fit to pursue a lawsuit in just around .25 percent of the complaints filed.
  • The EEOC is continuing its investigations of systematic discrimination charges and currently has 465 pending nationwide.

Connecticut hasn’t really seen this same spike as exists nationally.  Indeed, the latest CHRO Times shows that while the CHRO remains active, it is far from the peak levels that occurred a few years back.

As I reported back in September, claims of discrimination were fairly constant from last year’s levels.

 

 

Record numbers of discrimination complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to a MSNBC column:

Discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jumped 15 percent in fiscal 2008 to 95,402 — the highest level since the agency opened in 1965, said spokesman David Grinberg. That is up from 82,792 claims filed the year before by workers who believe they were discriminated against because of age, race, religion, gender or other reasons.

Those are truly stunning statistics because the unemployment numbers for 2008 didn’t even start to spike until the last few months and this is for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008.  If you were to extrapolate that trend for 2009, it’s entirely plausible that we could hit 100,000 claims filed during 2009. 

The formal numbers will be released later this week, but already, the EEOC spokesman has his interpretation: "It’s possible we have yet to see the full impact of the recession on discrimination charge filings as the economy continues to spiral downward since fiscal year 2008,” Grinberg said.

What is the makeup of these increases? Well, according to the MSNBC report, retaliation claims are up nearly 23%, age claims up nearly 29% and gender and religion claims up 14%.  By contrast, race claims are up only 11%, while disability claims are up a mere 10%.  Interestingly, Equal Pay Act claims — which will get a boost from the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — were already up nearly 17% last year, before the passage of that bill.

What Does This Mean For Employers?

While the CHRO has yet to release its statistics for Connecticut, the EEOC numbers indicate that claims are on the rise..and in a big way.  Every decision to terminate an employee carries an even greater risk of a complaint.  With jobs becoming scarcer by the day, laid-off or terminated employees may view a complaint as their own way to stay afloat and their only option. 

These numbers emphasize the point that decisions to terminate employees should be made cautiously and carefully.  What are the consequences? You could end up being part of next year’s statistics.