As part of my continuing series of posts about the CHRO, and following up from the 75th Anniversary panel discussion earlier this week, I wanted to provide an early look of the statistics that are soon to be released by the agency.

I was provided a preliminary draft in preparation for the panel presentation; it should be out in the next week or two and I was asked not to divulge the specific numbers.  Stay tuned for my deep dive into the numbers when they are officially released. (As a refresher, you can see last year’s numbers here.)

But there are few trends that are readily apparent from the draft.

First, as we have all suspected, sexual harassment claims filed with the CHRO are up substantially over the prior year.  This is not too surprising given the publicity regarding the #metoo movement.  Still, we haven’t seen these types of numbers in nearly 15 years.  When the final numbers are released, expect a big increase in sexual harassment claims from FY ’17 to FY ’18.

Second, we continue to see an increase in the numbers of employment discrimination claims being filed at the state agency.   While it is tempting to draw conclusions from this, the numbers seem to correlate closely to the increase in sexual harassment claims.  Normally, in an improving economy, we see decreases in the numbers of claims filed. We haven’t and that should raise some concerns for employers.

Third, the numbers of cases withdrawn “with settlement” are down substantially.  It’s hard to know what to make of this. With more cases getting dismissed by the agency, it could just be that some of the “nuisance” value cases are getting handled that way, but the drop seems to be much more than that. When the final report is released, it’ll be worth taking a deeper dive into the numbers.

Despite all of the numbers, the numbers of cases certified to public hearing and the number of reasonable cause drafts issues has remained constant from year to year.  This may be the result of the consistent approach that the CHRO has been seeking to implement over the last few years.

The biggest takeaway for employers? Discrimination and harassment complaints are likely at the second highest total they’ve been at in the last decade.

The age of increased discrimination and harassment claims isn’t over; it’s happening right now.

Through a recent FOI request, I was able to take a peek at the latest case statistics coming out of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. (The CHRO has since added them to the website as well.)

I’ve done these recaps in years before (here’s 2016 for example) and I think you can learn a lot not just on the latest statistics but when you compare them to prior years.

So, what do the numbers from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 show?

Well, for the first time in several years, we’ve seen a noticeable decrease in the numbers of complaints filed.

In FY 16-17, 2376 total complaints were filed, down from 2616 the prior year – a 9 percent decrease.  Of course, it’s still up from FY 11-12 when just 1838 total complaints were filed.

And what about employment discrimination complaints in particular?

The report also shows a drop in the number of complaints being filed, 1936, as compared to 2160 in the prior fiscal year.  That represents over a 10 percent drop. Again, however, it’s still up from FY 2012 when just 1559 employment claims were filed.

After years of marked increases, it’s nice to confirm what we have been seeing internally — that discrimination claims seems to be on the decline.

It’s difficult to know exactly why; we had seen increases the last few years at a national EEOC level too, but these new statistics from the CHRO show that the trendline up has finally broken.

Certainly the improved economy seems one factor but it’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues.

I’ll have a deeper dive into the statistics in an upcoming post.

numbersAt this week’s CHRO information session, I was able to review the new statistics released by the CHRO this fall regarding case filings and dismissals.

They’ve now been posted live on the CHRO’s website here.

It’s something I’ve covered each year and I’m always fascinated by what these statistics show — and don’t show.

What’s the big takeaway this year?

The trend of increasing numbers of discrimination complaints being filed that we have seen in Connecticut since 2012 (when just 1838 complaints were filed) is showing no signs of abating.

Indeed, in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, 2616 complaints were filed, up from 2482 the year before.  Thus from FY 2012 to FY 2016, that’s a huge 42 percent increase in the number of claims filed.

Now, not all complaints with the CHRO are employment-related.

But as with prior years, that number has been going up as well.

For FY 2016, there were 2160 such complaints filed, up from 2017 last year, and up from 1559 four years ago.  Again, that’s a 39 percent increase in employment-related claims filed over the last four years!

I’ve noted this in prior years but these increases are head-scratchers.  Normally, in an improving economy, claims go down.  While the Connecticut economy hasn’t been growing a lot, it is still somewhat stable.  

Moreover, such increases are counter to the national trends which have seen the numbers of claims filed with the EEOC decrease from their peaks in 2010, 2011 and 2012.    (Though I should note that in FY 2015, the EEOC did see a slight increase — but the numbers are still down 10 percent from their peaks early this decade.)

I speculated at this week’s informational session that it could be that more claims are being filed because it’s easier than ever to pass the Case Assessment Review stage and try to get something at a mediation.  Those at the CHRO challenged that argument but no one at the meeting had a good idea of what could be causing the rise.

Regardless, employers who have been sensing that more complaints than ever are being filed aren’t far off the mark.

I’ll take a deeper dive into the statistics in tomorrow’s post.

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.

 

After my post last week on discrimination statistics (and the lack thereof of CHRO statistics that were publicly available), the CHRO was kind enough to release some additional statistics to me that hadn’t been posted on its website and hadn’t been released publicly before.

My sincere thanks to CHRO Principal Attorney Charles Krich for the additional e-mails and information.

Unfortunately, said Krich, the public won’t be able to get as detailed statistical information as it used to because of staffing cuts.  Instead, the CHRO is focusing on statistics to evaluate the CHRO’s performance relative to its “statutory and contractual obligations”.

For fiscal year 2012-2013, there were 1850 cases filed — which is up slightly from the year before, but down from 2517 nearly 10 years ago.  Notably, from the CHRO’s perspective, it is now closing more cases than it is opening.  In the CHRO’s view, it is thus doing a “much better job.”

In 2010-2011, the ratio of cases closed to cases filed was 71 percent. That increased to 105 percent in 2012-2013.  In other words, for the 1850 cases filed, there were 1951 cases closed in the last fiscal year.

Krich as passed along some more detailed statistics, which I have uploaded here, here, here and here.

Although the statistics aren’t as helpful as in the past, there are a few items worth noting.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, particularly given the mediocre economy, that complaints about employment termination are still the number one basis for discrimination complaints.  Retaliation claims, also not surprisingly, still rank pretty high as well.

But it is a bit surprising to see significant numbers of sexual harassment claims still being filed.  While precision isn’t available on these numbers, it appears that such claims are up significantly from a decade ago.  This is counter to the national trend which has seen a drop in such claims over the last decade. 

The CHRO’s focus, though, is on closing cases.  While this is a positive trend overall, particularly to reduce the backlog of cases that had built up, it still leaves some questions unanswered.  How are the cases getting closed? Dismissals after finding the claims had no merit? Settlements? Withdrawals by parties frustrated by the process?

Talking with other lawyers who represent employers, we still see too many meritless cases getting pushed through the system — costing employers time and money to defend.

With new leadership at the CHRO, employers should watch the CHRO closely to see what, if any, changes will be implemented in the next year.    Statistics can tell part of the story, but how the CHRO handles particular cases will be just as telling.

 

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.

 

 

The conventional wisdom in a down economy is that employment discrimination claims will skyrocket. While there have been some indications of that at a national level, the numbers in Connecticut tell a very different story.

The state agency in Connecticut responsible for investigating discrimination complaints recently released its annual report (download here) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. 

It shows that 1740 employment discrimination complaints were filed in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, up slightly from 1716 complaints the year before (a little over 1 percent). However, these numbers are still well below the 1814 complaints filed in FY2008, and the over 2000 complaints in FY 2001. 

(I’ve previously looked at the annual report numbers in posts here, here and here.) 

Notably, the numbers of "reasonable cause" findings are down 15 percent from the year prior — to just 75 instances during the whole year (down from 91 in FY2009). It is the first time in 4 years, that the numbers of reasonable cause findings were this low. 

In upcoming posts I’ll delve into the numbers a bit further including increasing numbers of retaliation complaints being filed.

The numbers confirm what I had suspected last year — a discrimination complaint is not a foregone conclusion from a layoff, at least not in Connecticut.

Photo credit: Grafixar from morguefile.com

With the local economy suffering the effects of the economic recession, the prevailing wisdom of experts has been that the number of discrimination claims filed would continue to skyrocket. However, as I’ve pointed out before, we just haven’t seen that trend in Connecticut play out.

New data just released by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) confirms that the number of discrimination claims filed has actually dropped significantly over the last fiscal year (July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009). You can view the latest annual report here (and see my prior reports on the CHRO annual reports for FYs 2007 and 2008 both here and here). 

Thus in FY 2009, 1716 employment discrimination complaints were filed with the agency, compared with 1814 in the prior year.  Interestingly, the CHRO made almost the exact same number of "reasonable cause findings" — 91 — as it did in the prior year (88).  Over one-third of cases were dismissed on the merit assessment review stage and nearly another third were withdrawn with settlement. 

In an upcoming post or two, I’ll delve into the statistics a bit further (including big drops in the numbers of harassment and retaliation claims being filed). 

For employers, trying to figure out why the number of discrimination complaints here in the state is has dropped while the among of people unemployed is up, is a tough one to tackle.

Could it be that more employers are offering severance in exchange for waivers of discrimination complaints? Is it that people who are laid off during a recession understand the rationale (tough economic times) better than when times are good? Are employers seeking more legal advice about the process, anticipating a higher risk of a lawsuit?

Adding to the head-scratching is the fact that complaints to the EEOC on a nation-wide basis are actually up significantly.  In any case, the new statistics reveal that a discrimination claim is not a foregone conclusion arising from a layoff, at least in Connecticut.

Photo credit: Grafixar from morguefile.com