Employment Law Report

EEOC Boasts “Substantial Progress” of Systemic Program

By Courtney Ross Samford

Last week, the EEOC released a review of its efforts to combat systemic discrimination over the last decade.  The review, which comes on the 10th anniversary of its 2006 Systemic Task Force Report, boasts that the EEOC “has made substantial progress in building a systemic program that is strategic, nationwide, coordinated, and supported across the agency.”

According to Chair Jenny Yang, the “EEOC’s systemic program has opened up job opportunities for women in traditionally male industries, for African Americans and Latinos barred by background checks, workers with disabilities screened out by medical inquiries, and for older workers shut out by stereotyping” and “worked to remove discriminatory obstacles to equal opportunity and to institute promising practices in thousands of workplaces.”

The review notes that every district has initiated systemic investigations and lawsuits, and that investments in hiring and training have led to a 250 percent increase in systemic investigations over the last five years.  According to the EEOC, its systemic litigation program has achieved a 94 percent success rate over the last ten years.  In addition, the EEOC tripled its conciliation success rate and the amount of monetary relief recovered for victims in the last five years.

The EEOC also criticized “significant changes in the legal landscape [that] have made it more difficult for workers to pursue claims in court, to come together as a group or class, and to challenge a discriminatory pattern or practice” in the form of mandatory arbitration provisions, bans on class actions, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 564 U.S. 338 (2011), that made it more difficult to certify a class.   Even so, the EEOC reiterated its ability to “bring litigation regardless of arbitration bans and class actions….”

Finally, the EEOC stressed its continued emphasis on eradicating future systemic discrimination by working to identify the most significant problems and their underlying causes.  Currently, the agency is studying “promising forms of remedial relief” as a potential resolution and determining the best way to utilize its staffing, infrastructure and technology to maximize its success in the future.

The complete review is available here.