After a record-breaking year in fiscal 2011, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the past fiscal year has built on the gains it achieved, the agency reported January 28. The EEOC won $365.4 million for victims of workplace discrimination, breaking the previous record of $364.6 million set in fiscal 2011. The agency in fiscal 2012 also cut its backlog of cases for a second straight year, reducing pending charges from 78,136 at the end of fiscal 2011 to 70,312 at the close of the past fiscal year. Before fiscal 2011, the EEOC hadn’t decreased its backlog since 2002. The agency in fiscal 2012 received 99,412 charges of discrimination, 535 less than in fiscal 2011 when it collected a record 99,947 charges. The EEOC filed 122 lawsuits, 86 of which were individual suits, 26 of which involved multiple victims and 10 of which concerned “systemic” allegations involving several plaintiffs. Overall, the agency resolved 254 lawsuits, benefiting more than 23,446 people. “These remarkable achievements are a credit to the commitment of the EEOC’s staff and the product of strategic and efficient investment of critical budget resources in recent years,” EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien said in a written statement. Michael Burkhardt, a Philadelphia-based partner in the labor and employment practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said he wasn’t too surprised by the EEOC statistics. “I think we can expect the same kind of trend line over the next four years,” Burkhardt said. But Burkhardt said he is telling his corporate clients to take a close look at their policies on equal pay and promotions to avoid systemic suits. Berrien said in 2011 that the EEOC would emphasize systemic cases. In fiscal 2012, the EEOC finished 240 systemic investigations, which resulted in 46 settlements or conciliation agreements. “I think we can expect the EEOC to continue to be active in this space,” Burkhardt said.
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