The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its fiscal year 2019 data on charges filed with the agency. For the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2019, there were 72,675 charges filed nationwide. The most frequently filed charge basis continues to be retaliation–representing 53.8% of all charges (39,110 charges). Retaliation was followed by disability (33.4%), race (33.0%), and sex (32.4%).The full breakdown is as follows:

  • Retaliation: 39,110 (53.8 percent of all charges filed)
  • Disability: 24,238 (33.4 percent)
  • Race: 23,976 (33.0 percent)
  • Sex: 23,532 (32.4 percent)
  • Age: 15,573 (21.4 percent)
  • National Origin: 7,009 (9.6 percent)
  • Color: 3,415 (4.7 percent)
  • Religion: 2,725 (3.7 percent)
  • Equal Pay Act: 1,117 (1.5 percent)
  • Genetic Information: 209 (0.3 percent)

Of course, these numbers add up to more than 100%. That is because charges often contain allegations of more than one type of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation.

In 26,221 charges, there were allegations of harassment. Of those, there were 12,739 sexual harassment charges, a decrease from FY2018, which saw a spike following the #metoo movement. The data for charges to the EEOC in Ohio, largely mirrored these percentages. Notably, this data does not include charges filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) that were not also filed with the EEOC.

What does this mean for employers? When you get a complaint of harassment, discrimination, or pay discrimination, it is important to avoid retaliation and instruct managers on the risks of retaliation following a complaint. Acting improperly after a complaint of discrimination or harassment–even one found to be baseless–can easily become the basis for a valid retaliation claim.