According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. employers were forced to pay $68.2 million to resolve sexual harassment claims during the fiscal year 2019. This amount was more than $10 million higher than the previous record and demonstrates that sexual harassment continues to be a real problem in workplaces across the nation. The EEOC’s annual data summary also revealed other interesting statistics about sexual harassment claims filed during the year. Here are some highlights from the sexual harassment lawyers in NJ at Swartz Swidler.
Number of new sexual harassment claims filed
Sexual harassment claims filed in 2019 fell slightly to 7,514, which was down from 7,609 cases that were filed in 2018. However, this was still the second-highest number of claims filed during the past seven years. Overall, sexual harassment charges represented 10.3% of all of the charges that were received by the EEOC.
The percentage of sexual harassment charges filed by men increased from 2018 to 2019. During the fiscal year 2019, men filed 16.8% of the sexual harassment complaints as compared to 15.9% filed in 2018. This might demonstrate an increased awareness that men can also be the victims of sexual harassment.
Retaliation continues to be a problem
The most common type of claim filed against employers with the EEOC involved retaliation in 2019. While it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for exercising their rights to file discrimination and harassment complaints, some employers still engage in retaliatory actions. In 2019, 39,110 retaliation claims were filed, representing 53.8% of the total cases that were filed with the EEOC. This statistic demonstrates the importance of having good training programs and strong human resources policies to prevent retaliation against employees.
Disability discrimination the second-highest claim type filed
After retaliation complaints, the second-highest claim type filed in 2019 involved disability discrimination. The number of disability claims has steadily increased since 2008 after the ADA Amendments Act was passed. Before that law, just 14,893 disability discrimination complaints were filed. In 2019, a total of 24,238 disability discrimination charges were filed with the EEOC, accounting for 33.4% of all of the charges received by the EEOC.
LGBTQ discrimination charges are increasing
LGBTQ claims were first tracked by the EEOC starting in 2013. At that time, just 808 claims of LGBTQ discrimination were filed. By contrast, 2019 showed 1,868 discrimination charges filed with the EEOC for LGBTQ discrimination with $7 million recovered. Since the Supreme Court’s decision during the summer of 2020 in which it recognized LGBTQ discrimination as a type of gender discrimination, the number of these types of claims will likely continue to increase.
Resolutions through litigation increased
The EEOC focuses on resolving a majority of its claims through conciliation and other processes short of litigation. However, an increase in the number of merit suits has increased. In 2019, the EEOC reached resolutions in 1,792 merit cases. It also negotiated 692 settlements and successfully conciliated 135 claims. In a total of 4,297 cases, the EEOC found that there was no reasonable cause.
Drop in the overall number of EEOC claims
In 2019, the total number of claims filed with the EEOC fell to 72,675, which was a decrease of 4.9% from the number filed in 2018. The total number of cases has fallen for four years. The number of charges filed in 2019 was the lowest number since 1997 when the agency first began publishing the data on its website.
Age discrimination charges dropped
One surprising statistic in the EEOC’s annual report is that age discrimination claims fell in 2019. Even though the workforce is aging, fewer cases were filed. In 2019, only 15,573 age discrimination charges were received by the EEOC, which represented a four-year low and a drop of 25% since 2015.
States with the highest number of claims
The states in which the highest number of EEOC discrimination charges were filed included Texas, Florida, and Georgia. In Texas, 7,448 discrimination claims were filed. Florida saw a total of 5,900 discrimination charges, and Georgia rounded out the top three with 4,779. These statistics do not mean that residents of those states are likelier to face workplace discrimination. Instead, they are simply the states where EEOC claims are likelier to be filed instead of being resolved in another way.
Talk to an experienced employment law attorney in New Jersey
These statistics illustrate the importance that employers establish positive cultures in their workplaces. Employers should focus on eradicating sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. If you have been sexually harassed at work or have been the victim of another type of illegal discrimination, you may have legal rights. Contact Swartz Swidler to request a free consultation by calling us at (856) 685-7420.