The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2014
Last year was a record-breaking year for the Equal Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), which obtained approximately $372 million for workers alleging workplace discrimination. In the EEOC’s annual report, the agency asked for $75 million to support their litigation efforts in 2014…thus, they show no sign of slowing down. According to EEOC Commissioner Constance Barker, “Since we’ve got so much authority delegated to the agency’s general counsel, 2013 really became the year of litigation, and I think 2014 will continue that trend…I think private companies ought to expect to see more aggressive use of the litigation process, more aggressive pursuit of systemic discrimination cases and more cases bypassing the commission’s review and vote.”
The EEOC is approximately halfway through its FY 2012-2016 Strategic Enforcement Plan (“SEP”), which is a road map for the agency’s enforcement and litigation strategy. The SEP identifies six major priorities for the Commission, including:
Eliminate barriers in recruitment and hiring.
Protect immigrants, migrants, and other vulnerable workers.
3. Address emerging & developing issues. Specifically, these three:
Reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
Accommodation for pregnancy-related limitation under the ADA and Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Coverage of LGBT individuals under Title VII’s sex discrimination provisions.
4. Enforce equal pay laws.
5. Preserve and improve access to the legal system.
6. Prevent harassment.
It is my prediction that the EEOC will focus heavily on sexual orientation and gender discrimination in the coming year and begin pursuing more genetic discrimination cases pursuant to GINA, which was passed several years ago but is now just becoming a hot-button topic.