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Perspective

The EEOC and the Future of EPLI

April 19, 2017| Von Alice Zelikson and Jeff Weisel | EPLI | English

Region: North America

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently released its statistical details for the 91,000 charges of workplace discrimination the agency received in the 2016 fiscal year. Since 2014, the number of charges filed with the EEOC has been steadily increasing. Once again, retaliation leads the frequency of charges.1

One of the key items to come out of the EEOC’s 2016 statistics is that detailed information concerning LGBT charges are included for the first time. Over the past few years, charges filed by LGBT individuals alleging sex discrimination have steadily increased. In fiscal year 2016, 1,768 LGBT charges were filed as compared to 808 charges in 2013. In 2013 the monetary benefits paid totaled $0.9 million while in 2016 the monetary benefits paid quadrupled to $4.4 million. The EEOC has spent considerable effort advocating for the protection of LGBT rights under the existing anti-discrimination laws.

In 2012 the EEOC concluded that transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination on the basis of a perceived failure to adhere to gender stereotypes. In 2015 the agency held that Title VII extends to claims of sexual orientation discrimination.

Recently, the EEOC has increased its focus on areas it considers to be developing and emerging in the workplace. These areas include issues related to complex employment relationships and structures in the 21st century, including “backlash discrimination,” equal pay for all workers and additional protections against immigrant and migrant workers. However, it’s possible this focus on LGBT rights along with other EEOC key areas of enforcement may change, given the priorities of the new Executive Branch administration.

Various news outlets have recently reported that the EEOC will focus on “job growth” moving forward and speculation suggests the agency may be withdrawing from some LGBT discrimination cases due to “administration-related changes.”

What this will mean for workers and future EEOC enforcement priorities will be answered in 2017 and beyond. Our EPLI team will be watching closely and sharing insights on how the new landscape affects insurers.

 

Endnote
  1. A single individual’s charge can allege multiple employment law violations (e.g., disability discrimination and retaliation), hence the type of charge numbers will add up to more than 100% of the total of individuals filing charges.

 

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