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Horton Law Firm Blog How Many EEOC Lawsuits Were Filed in 2023?

 | How Many EEOC Lawsuits Were Filed in 2023?

Since most employment discrimination cases begin with filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and never turn into EEOC lawsuits, I find it helpful to follow what the EEOC is up to each year. Mostly in terms of how many charges get filed, how many charges the EEOC processes, and how many cases the EEOC actually files a lawsuit on. 

How Many EEOC Charges and EEOC Lawsuits Got Filed in 2023? 

Last month, the EEOC issued its annual performance report for fiscal year 2023, and here are a few takeaways from that report:

For Fiscal Year 2023, the EEOC received 81,000 new discrimination charges, which is a 10% increase over the number of charges that had been received in 2022.

During that same period, the EEOC only filed EEOC lawsuits in 143 cases. Of those cases, 86 were for individuals, 32 involved multiple victims, and 25 involved systemic (wide-spread) discriminatory policies. 

The EEOC has not yet released information that breaks down the 80,000+ charges by charge type (in other words, how many were for retaliation, how many for age or race discrimination, etc.). I’ll provide that information in a future blog post once the EEOC releases it. 

The EEOC Highlights the Newly Enacted Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The EEOC’s 2023 report also highlighted its enforcement of the newly enacted Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which helps employees who are pregnant and have pregnancy-related limitations get accommodations related to those limitations. The PWFA went into effect on June 27, 2023, so for any violations that occur after that date, a South Carolina employee can file a charge of discrimination. 

While the PWFA deserves its own future blog post, here’s what it means in a quick summary. For SC employees, you already have a right to seek a reasonable accommodation for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held that if an employer provides an accommodation to an employee for an ADA disability, then the employer must also provide the same or similar accommodation to a pregnant employee who seeks an accommodation for a pregnancy-related reason. The PWFA brings that same accommodation language into statutory law. 

The PWFA, in conjunction with the PUMP Act (providing break times and lactation spaces at work for nursing mothers), helps protect employees who are pregnant or new mothers from discrimination based on pregnancy in the workplace. 

Takeaways for South Carolina Employees

A few final thoughts:

Remember that the deadline to file EEOC charges in South Carolina is 300 days, so you cannot sit on your rights if you intend to file a claim or eventually a lawsuit against an employer. 

Also, you can see how few charges the EEOC actually brings EEOC lawsuits on: 143 lawsuits out of 80,000 charges. One thing I have to tell clients is not to expect the EEOC to do much investigating or expect the EEOC to find cause/merit to the charge. That happens rarely. 99% of the time, we’ll wait to get the company’s Position Statement (written response to the allegations in our charge), determine whether or not we think the company’s defense is garbage or has some heft to it, and then decide whether we will file the lawsuit in state or federal court. 

For employees who have not retained an attorney to represent them in the EEOC process, they might not even know that they will need one until the EEOC abruptly terminates the investigation, dismisses any EEOC charges, and issues the Notice of Right to Sue, which triggers the 90 day deadline to file a lawsuit. I suggest you seek out a review of your charge early in the process from a South Carolina employment lawyer so that you’re not waiting until the last minute to find an attorney to represent you. 

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