Most charges were down, but sex harassment, LGBT charges were up.

On Wednesday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its charge-filing statistics for fiscal year 2018, which ran from October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018.

According to Law360, EEOC charges in FY 2018 were at their lowest level since 2006. Yes, 2006. When George W. Bush was President of the United States. Before the Americans with Disabilities Act was amended. Long before #MeToo. The year that my 31-year-old graduated from high school. *sniffle*

All of which is wonderful news for employers, but the news wasn’t completely good. Sexual harassment charges increased by 13.6 percent compared with FY 2017, and the monetary relief obtained by the EEOC in sexual harassment charges increased by more than 20 percent. I have a theory about that and a prediction, which I’ll save until the end of this post.

There was also an increase in the relatively low number of LGBT discrimination charges filed (a subset of sex discrimination), and an increase in the monetary relief obtained.

All of the EEOC’s statistics, dating back to 1998, are available here.

The big picture

Nationwide, the EEOC received 76,418 charges, and resolved 90,558 charges (the latter figure would include charges from prior fiscal years). The agency obtained $505 million for victims and reduced its “workload” (should that be “backlog”?) by 19.5 percent.

The agency filed 199 lawsuits, 117 of which alleged individual instances of discrimination, 45 of which alleged discriminatory policies, and 37 of which alleged systemic discrimination.

In years past, retaliation has been the most common charge, followed by race, with sex and disability (post-ADA amendments) not far behind. This year, retaliation stayed in the lead, but race charges declined significantly, dropping into fourth place. That put sex discrimination charges (all types, including sexual harassment and LGBT discrimination) in second place, and ADA charges third. But the numbers for sex, disability, and race were very close.

The numbers for the other types of charges were about what we’ve come to expect over the years. The “Big Four” were followed by age, national origin, color, religion, and Equal Pay Act, in that order. Genetic discrimination charges brought up the rear, with a mere 220 charges filed nationwide.

All charges, FY 2018.

The Big Four

With the exception of sexual harassment and LGBT charges, the number of charges declined in FY 2018. The following charts show the number of charges in the top categories for FY 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Here is retaliation:

Retaliation charges, 2015-2018.

And here is sex discrimination (all types):
Sex discrimination (all types), 2015-2018.

Disability discrimination charges also declined. Are employers getting better at fielding reasonable accommodation requests, now that they’ve had several years with the amended ADA? Maybe so.
Disability/ADA, 2015-2018.

And look at the big drop in race discrimination charges. Does anyone have a theory as to why this would be the case? I don’t.
Race, 2015-2018.


The EEOC, as it must, treats LGBT discrimination as a subset of sex discrimination, so the LGBT numbers are included with “all” sex discrimination charges. However, since 2013, the EEOC has also been tracking LGBT charges separately.

LGBT charges did increase in FY 2018, but they are a relative drop in the bucket — only 1,811 of more than 24,000 sex discrimination charges.
LGBT charges, 2015-2018.

The monetary relief obtained in LGBT cases also increased in FY 2018:
LGBT monetary relief, 2015-2018.

Sexual harassment

On to sexual harassment! Last summer, the EEOC reported a slight “uptick” in sexual harassment charges. But by the fall, the EEOC estimated that it had seen about a 12 to 13 percent increase in sexual harassment charges as compared with FY 2017. The official figure is 13.6 percent, which is pretty close to the fall 2018 estimate:
Sexual harassment charges, 2015-2018.

And the monetary relief obtained by the EEOC in sexual harassment cases increased dramatically, by more than 20 percent: