EEOC Charge Statistics: Fiscal Years 1997 through 2009

In a January 6, 2010 press release, the EEOC reports that job bias charges approached record-high levels during Fiscal Year 2009, with 93,277 workplace discrimination charges filed nationwide.  Regarding this data, EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru stated:

The latest data tell us that, as the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the Commission's work is far from finished.  Equal employment opportunity remains elusive for far too many workers and the Commission will continue to fight for their rights.  Employers must step up their efforts to foster discrimination-free and inclusive workplaces, or risk enforcement and litigation by the EEOC.
In their press release, the EEOC attributes the "near-historic" level of charge filings to multiple factors, including greater accessibility of the EEOC to the public, economic conditions, increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees' greater awareness of their rights under the law, and changes to the agency's intake practices that cut down on the steps needed for an individual to file a charge.

The chart below presents the number of charges filed per fiscal year by type of alleged discrimination.  The underlying data can be found on the EEOC's website here.  Note that a charge can be filed under multiple types of alleged discrimination, and the data is not mutually exclusive by type.  In other words, if a charge was filed alleging race and gender discrimination, that charge would be included in both the race data and the gender data for that fiscal year.

While charges filed for all types of alleged discrimination increased from Fiscal Year 2007 to 2008, age and retaliation claims were the main drivers, increasing 28.7% and  22.6%, respectively.

Fiscal Year 2010 is likely to see a further increase in EEOC activity, attributable not only to the factors mentioned by the EEOC above, but also to the clearing of some of the backlog as a result of the additional $23 million of requested funds.