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Milestones: 2012

  • The Commission voted to approve the fiscal years 2012-2016 Strategic Plan.  The plan serves as a frame­work for the Commission to achieve its mission to stop and remedy unlawful employment dis­crim­ination, so that the nation might soon realize the Commission's vision of justice and equality in the workplace. This is outlined through three strategic objectives: strategic law enforce­ment, education and outreach, and efficiently serving the public.  The three strategic objectives each have a number of performance measures detailing outcomes to be achieved during the four year period the Plan is in effect.
  • The EEOC received 99,412 charges in FY 2012, but resolves a total of 111,139 charges, the second highest number in the EEOC's history. The Commission secured more than $365.4 million in monetary benefits through its private sector adminis­trative enforcement activities, the highest level of monetary relief ever obtained by the Commission.  Over 23,000 individuals received monetary relief.  Of particular note was the increased number of charges resolved through successful conciliations, with 1,591 in fiscal year 2012 -- an 18% increase from the previous year.
  • The EEOC started to design two projects that use technology to streamline services and increase agency responsiveness to customers.  The first one, an online tool for deter­mining the status of individuals' charges, would enable individuals who have filed charges to go online and determine where their charge is in the administrative process.  It would reduce the number of calls to staff, permitting staff to focus on investigating and resolving cases.  A second project involved uploading documents submitted by employers.
  • The EEOC trained 1,492 enforcement personnel from federal, state, and local civil rights enforce­ment agencies on techniques for investigating and analyzing violations of compensation discrim­ination laws.  The agency also conducted over 70 free joint outreach events with other agencies in the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, including OFCCP, DOL's Wage and Hour Division and Women's Bureau, and the Department of Justice, reaching over 1,700 attendees.
  • The agency increased its communications and partnerships with the AAPI community, conducting 197 events, reaching 24,414 people, raising awareness about the EEOC and the laws preventing national origin discrimination in the workplace.

Notable Supreme Court Decisions

  • The Supreme Court held in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC that based on the First Amendment's Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, ministers are barred from pursuing employment discrimination claims against their religious employers. This case involved an ADA challenge to a church school.
  • In a matter involving appellate procedures for federal employees, the Court held in Kloeckner v. Solis that all federal employee "mixed-case" appeals from the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) involving both employment discrimination and Civil Service Reform Act claims are appealable to the federal district court instead of the federal courts of appeals, even if the MSPB decided the case on procedural grounds.

Significant Appellate Decisions

  • In EEOC v. KarenKim, Inc., d/b/a Paul's Big M, d/b/a/ Paul's Big M Grocery, 698 F.3d 92 (2d Cir 2012), after a jury found that the defendant had subjected a class of female employees to a sexually hostile work environment and awarded $1.26 million to a class of 10 women,, the EEOC sought injunctive relief which the district court denied the injunctive relief and the EEOC appealed. The Second Circuit ruled in favor of the EEOC and held that injunctive relief was necessary to address the "cognizable danger" of an employer "engag[ing] in 'recurrent violations' of Title VII."
  • In EEOC and Serrano v. Cintas Corp., 699 F.3d. 884 (6th Cir. 2012) (reh'g and reh'g en banc denied), the Sixth Circuit overturned the district court's decision and held that the EEOC could pursue its pattern-or-practice claim under the Teamsters framework when it brings suit under section 706 of Title VII.  The Sixth Circuit also overturned an award of $2.6 million in attorney fees, holding that the district court abused its discretion when it awarded fees on the basis of what it termed "unreasonable conduct" by EEOC.
  • In Lewis v. Humboldt, 681 F.3d 312 (6th Cir. 2012) (en banc), the Sixth Circuit agreed with the Commission's amicus brief and held that a plaintiff need not show his or her disability was the sole cause of the employer's action in order to establish a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The majority found that a plaintiff must show his or her disability was the "but for" cause of the employer's action.

Notable EEOC Resolutions

  • The Commission settled EEOC v. Yellow Transportation, Inc. and YRC, Inc. (N. D. Ill. June 29, 2012) for $11 million for a class of African American employees who faced race harassment and discrimination at the company, including multiple incidents of hangman's nooses and racist graffiti, comments and cartoons.  Yellow and YRC also disciplined black employees more harshly than their white counterparts and gave them more difficult and time-consuming work assignments. 
  • EEOC v. Central Calif. Found. for Health d/b/a Delano Regional Medical Center and Delano Health Associates, Inc., (E.D. Cal. Sept. 17, 2012) settled for $975,000 for a class of Filipino-American hospital workers who were the targets of harassing comments, undue scrutiny and discipline when speaking with a Filipino accent or in Filipino languages like Tagalog or Ilocano.  Supervisors, staff, and even volunteers berated and reprimanded Filipino-American employees, made fun of their accents, and ordered them to comply with the hospital's English-only policy, although non-Filipino workers were allowed to speak their native languages.  
  • In EEOC v. Fry's Electronics, Inc. (D. Wash. Aug. 30, 2012), the EEOC settled for $2.3 million for a sales associate who was sexually harassed by an assistant store manager, and for a supervisor who was terminated in retaliation for reporting the harassment to defendant's legal department.  The settlement followed sanctions, including a $100,000 penalty imposed by a federal judge against Fry for abusive discovery tactics which included destroying relevant evidence, wrongfully withholding evidence and filing frivolous motions.

 Public Conciliation Agreement:

  • In January, the EEOC and Pepsi Beverages entered into a landmark conciliation agreement concerning the company's use of criminal background checks. The policy denied employment to applicants who had been arrested and had never been convicted of any offense. The policy also denied employment to applicants who had been convicted of only minor offenses.  More than 300 African Americans had been adversely affected by the policy.  Pepsi agreed to offer jobs and pay $3.13 million to the victims.  The company also eliminated this unlawful job barrier for future applicants. 

Notable Federal Sector Decisions

  • In Macy v. Dep't of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120120821, the Commission found hat claims of discrimination based on transgender status or gender identity are covered under Title VII's sex discrimination prohibition. This is the first time the EEOC specified that discrimination on the basis of transgender status is gender stereotyping, and covered by Title VII.

Notable EEOC Guidance

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