The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed over 50% more employment discrimination lawsuits in fiscal year 2023 than it did the year before. The agency filed 143 new employment discrimination suits from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023.
The fiscal year 2023 filings include 25 systemic lawsuits, almost double the number filed in each of the past three fiscal years. A systemic suit is one in which “discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company or geographic location,” the EEOC says.
The EEOC also filed 32 non-systemic class suits seeking relief for multiple harmed parties and 86 suits seeking relief for individuals.
According to a statement from the agency, the cases represent a broad array of issues, including barriers in recruitment and hiring, protecting vulnerable workers and persons from underserved communities, inflexible policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities, the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing equal pay, combatting unlawful harassment, and preserving access to the legal system.
However, legal analysts reviewing the cases say the EEOC pursued cases of disability discrimination and workplace harassment more than others. Analysts also say the hospitality, healthcare, and retail industries were subject to more cases.
As a reminder, employers can be subject to discrimination lawsuits beyond those filed by the EEOC. Discrimination cases can be filed by individuals on the basis of Title VII, age, equal pay, pregnancy discrimination, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Employers are reminded to develop a culture of compliance and take steps to minimize their exposure to discrimination and harassment claims. Businesses should work with legal counsel to ensure you have robust policies in place, effective communication on employee rights, and appropriate employee and supervisor-level training.