California employers faced fewer allegations of workplace discrimination from employees seeking assistance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2017 than in prior years. The EEOC is a federal agency responsible for regulating and enforcing federal civil rights and equal pay laws for most employers. Overall agency filings across the nation have decreased significantly since 2010 and just 84,254 claims were filed in fiscal year 2017, which ended last September. 2010 saw 99,922 filings.
Retaliation against workers for engaging in legally protected behavior remains the most commonly alleged complaint, which has been the case since the agency began tracking numbers. Retaliation is a non-specific claim that is typically combined with complaints for other, more specific violations. Retaliation was an element of 48.8% of all filings. The most common specific violation alleged in 2017 was racial discrimination, which appeared in 33% of overall filings. Recently released statistics reveal the agency assisted employees in recovering $398 million from employers last year for claims of every type which include discrimination based on race, age, gender, faith, national origin, ethnicity, and color. A small percentage of claims (1%) involve Equal Pay Act claims.
The EEOC has overlapping regulatory jurisdiction with a number of state agencies, and their data does not include claims filed exclusively at the state or local levels. EEOC authority is generally limited to federal agencies and private employers with at least fifteen (15) employees. Smaller employers are not exempt from civil rights laws but are regulated at the state level.
Workers faced with discriminatory or hostile work environments must navigate strict timelines and procedures to file reports and complaints regarding inappropriate behavior or wrongful termination. Getting a consultation from an experienced and qualified employment law attorney can provide discrimination victims with perspective and guidance regarding their rights under any of the federal and state laws governing proper workplace behavior.