U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Milestones: 2011

  • The EEOC received nearly 99,947 charges during the fiscal year -- the highest number in the history of the Commission.  The EEOC managed to resolve 112,000 charges during the same fiscal year. The agency's inventory of pending charges declined for the first time since 2002.
  • The EEOC's private sector administrative enforcement activities secured more than $364.6 million in monetary benefits in fiscal year 2011, the highest level of monetary relief ever obtained by the Com­mis­­sion through the administrative process.  This is $45 million more than was recovered in FY 2010. 
  • The Commission increased its cooperative efforts with other agencies.  These efforts included  participating in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Task Force, the National HIV / AIDS Strategy, the National Reentry Council and the White House Equal Pay Task Force.  In February, the EEOC hosted the first-ever forum in which the leaders of the EEOC, the DOJ's Civil Rights Division and OFCCP met together with EEOC staff to discuss cooperative efforts.
  • Pursuant to the President's Executive Order 13522, "Creating Labor-Management Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services," the EEOC established a National Joint Labor Management Council (JLMC) in addition to councils in each of its 15 districts, the Washington Field Office, and head­quarters.  The National JLMC established three metrics to measure goal-related activities associated with implementing the executive order: "Improve Mission and Service Delivery," "Employee Satis­faction and Engagement" and "Improved Labor-Management Relations."         
  • An independent contractor retained by the EEOC issued its "Evaluation of the Priority Charge Handling Procedures Report," reviewing the EEOC's priority charge handling process (PCHP).  The report contained four major findings and several recommendations to strengthen PCHP nationwide. See sidebar for specific findings.
  • On Oct. 9, the EEOC and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs of the DOL (OFCCP) entered into a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), replacing one which had been in place since 1999.  This MOU provided for the EEOC and OFCCP to cooperate on a number of levels, most importantly, exchanging information about employers and coordinating their respective enforcement efforts.

Notable Supreme Court Decisions

  • The Court issued four decisions relevant to the laws enforced by the EEOC. Two involved the scope of anti-retaliation provisions; one discussed employer liability for the discriminatory animus of a supervisor; and the fourth, restricted a large, private class action against Wal-Mart involving sex discrimination. Please see the section on Supreme Court decisions for more details.

Significant Appellate Decisions

  • In Hoyle v. Freightliner, LLC, 650 F.3d 321 (4th Cir. Apr. 1, 2011), the EEOC filed an amicus brief in this Title VII harassment and retaliation case to argue that an employee need not show she was the target of harassment in order to establish that harassment was "because of" sex, as long as she can show that her work environment exposed to her to disadvantageous conditions to which men were not exposed. 
  • In EEOC v. Minnesota Dep't of Corrections & Minnesota Law Enforcement Ass'n, No. 10-2699, 2011 WL 5444117 (8th Cir. Aug. 10, 2011) the Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court and held an early retirement incentive plan violated the ADEA where it offered extended health and dental insurance benefits to those workers employed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections who retired at age 55, but explicitly deprived workers older than 55 of the benefits based solely on their age.
  • The issue presented in Hernandez-Miranda v. Empresas Diaz Masso, 651 F3d 167 (1st Cir. 2011) was what is the relevant year for counting employees to determine the damages cap under the Civil Rights Act of 1991.  The First Circuit, agreeing with the Commission's arguments as amicus curiae, held that reference in the statute to "current or preceding year" refers to the year the discrimination occurred, not the year of the judgment. 

Notable EEOC Trial Victories

  • In EEOC v. Mid-American Specialties, Inc., 774 F.Supp.2d 892 (W.D. Tenn. Mar. 2, 2011), a jury awarded $1.5 million to three women subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation.  The jury found that two male managers subjected female employees to severe and unwelcome sexual harassment, includ­ing exposure of private body parts and demands for "kissing" to receive the sales leads necessary for the women to earn commissions.  The verdict was reduced under Title VII's statutory caps.

Notable EEOC Resolutions

  • EEOC v. Verizon Maryland, Inc., et al. (D. Md. Jul. 6, 2011) settled for $20 million for a class of employees with disabilities who were denied reasonable accommodations, disciplined and/or fired, in violation of the ADA. The EEOC alleged that the company refused to make exceptions to its "no fault" attendance plans to accommodate employees with disabilities.  This settlement represents the largest disability discrimination settlement in a single lawsuit in EEOC's history.
  • In EEOC v. International Profit Associates, Inc. (N. D. Ill. Mar. 2, 2011), the Commission settled for $8 million for 80 women subjected to sexual harassment.  The harassment included sexual assaults, solicitations for sex, offensive sexual comments, derogatory comments about women, groping and displays of pornography.  Shortly before trial, the defendant admitted liability.
  • EEOC v. Supervalu/Jewel-Osco (N.D. Ill. Jan. 5, 2011) settled for $3.2 million for 110 former employees who were terminated at the end of their disability leave. The EEOC alleged that the company had a policy and practice of terminating employees with disabilities at the end of medical leaves of absence rather than reasonably accommodating those who wanted to return to work.

Notable EEOC Guidance

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