Preliminary data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) showed that the agency filed 50% more employment discrimination lawsuits in fiscal year (FY) 2023 than in FY 2022. There were 143 new employment discrimination lawsuits filed in FY 2023, including 25 systemic lawsuits (nearly double the amount filed in each of the past three fiscal years and the largest number of systemic filings in the past five years), 32 nonsystemic class suits for multiple harmed parties and 86 suits for individuals.
“The EEOC’s litigation program is an important tool to ensure compliance with the nation’s anti-discrimination laws and promote equal employment opportunity when the Commission is unable to obtain voluntary compliance.” - Charlotte A. Burrows, EEOC chair
The cases filed in FY 2023 represent a broad array of issues covered under the statutes enforced by the EEOC, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Equal Pay Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. These cases covered a range of issues, such as protecting vulnerable workers and
people from underserved communities, addressing barriers in recruitment and hiring, confronting qualification standards and inflexible policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities, advancing equal pay, combatting unlawful harassment, addressing the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and preserving access to the legal system.
In FY 2023, the EEOC also filed its first lawsuits against companies for failing to grant employees with religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine policies. Experts anticipate there may be an uptick in religious accommodation lawsuits following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Groff v. Dejoy decision in June. The EEOC also resolved its first-ever artificial intelligence-based hiring discrimination case against an organization that allegedly programmed recruitment software to reject older candidates.
The EEOC’s goal is to advance workplace opportunity by enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. Many changes have taken place at the agency in FY 2023, including new leadership, structural changes, and a significantly increased proposed budget. As a result, employers may see a continued increase in enforcement in the coming months and through next year. Therefore, it’s crucial that employers understand their legal obligations related to discrimination laws.
We will keep you apprised of any notable updates regarding EEOC enforcement. For more compliance resources, contact us today.
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