Companies need to be aware of areas where the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is cracking down. As Business.com explains, the EEOC is “notorious” for initiating court action against employers, sometimes over more minor infractions.
Employers should be aware of specific areas where EEOC is focusing its attention, and tracking litigation trends from the agency can help companies to keep abreast of the EEOC’s focus. Employees should also be aware of the steps EEOC is taking to provide them with important protections from a wide variety of discriminatory actions on the part of companies.
Top Litigation Trends for EEOC Show Areas of Focus
The fiscal year for EEOC ended on September 30 for 2014 to 2015, and data has already been published showing the primary areas in which EEOC focused its efforts in 2015. Taking a look at these trends shows not just what lawsuits EEOC chose to file on behalf of employers, but also paints a clear picture of some of the many ways in which employers are still falling short in failing to fulfill their obligation to create a non-discriminatory workplace.
The key areas where EEOC was forced to litigate to protect employees last year include:
- Disability discrimination claims: Lawsuits brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act have accounted for close to a third of all lawsuits brought by EEOC over the past several years. In 2013, 36 percent of lawsuits arose from violations of ADA. In 2014, 32 percent of lawsuits involved allegations employers had discriminated on the basis of disability. In 2015, the number of lawsuits arising from disability discrimination rose to 36 percent. In the start of fiscal year 2015 to 2016, the trend appears to be continuing. In October, there were already four lawsuits filed by EEOC (out of 13 total) which were focused on disability discrimination claims. Disability discrimination litigation will become increasingly important as the workforce ages and more people look for employment despite age-related disabilities.
- Retaliation Claims: In 2010, EEOC began to look more closely at retaliation cases where companies took unlawful actions against whistleblowers who reported workplace discrimination. In September of 2015 alone, 25.8 percent of lawsuits brought by EEOC involved allegations employers had retaliated against workers. In October of 2015, 15.8 percent of lawsuits filed by EEOC were focused on claims of illegal retaliation.
- Pregnancy Discrimination: New guidance was issued by EEOC on pregnancy discrimination in July of 2014. This update to rules on pregnancy discrimination was the first update in three decades and showed clearly the renewed focus on protecting pregnant women. In June of 2015, a landmark ruling on pregnancy discrimination provided further protections. EEOC has also been launching lawsuits on behalf of pregnant women who face unlawful behavior. In September of 2015, 14.5 percent of total claims brought by EEOC were pregnancy discrimination claims.
Transgender discrimination and sexual harassment claims rounded out the list of the top five areas where EEOC is focusing its efforts and filing claims on behalf of workers. While Title VII doesn’t specifically provide protection on the basis of gender identity, EEOC has still begun filing more lawsuits claiming transgender discrimination is a violation of gender discrimination. This trend is expected to continue into 2015.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
McDonald’s Faces Suit for Rampant Racial and Sexual Discrimination, Jan. 26, 2015, Orange County Discrimination Lawyer Blog