Seyfarth Synopsis: As we approach the latter portion of the fiscal year, employers are beginning to see a significant spike in EEOC case filings over the last month or so, bringing the EEOC more in line with its relative aggressiveness during the previous couple of fiscal years. This increase in case filings comes on the heels of the May 8th Senate confirmation of the new EEOC Chair, Janet Dhillon. In today’s video, Partner Jerry Maatman gives an update on the EEOC’s recent activity, as well as what employers can expect from the Agency going forward through the end of the Fiscal Year in September.
While the first half of the 2019 Fiscal Year may have signaled a scaling back with respect to EEOC case filings, the months of May and June have brought with them a significant increase in EEOC-initiated litigation. During the 7 months leading up to the Senate confirmation of EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon on May 8, the EEOC filed just 27 lawsuits. Between May 8 and June 8, the month following Dhillon’s confirmation, the EEOC filed a staggering 17 lawsuits within the span of a single month. As we noted in our blog post from May 8, Dhillon suggested in her hearing with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that litigation should be a matter of “last resort”. While it is a small sample size, Dhillon’s business-friendly sentiment seems to be disconnected from the way in which the agency has conducted itself in the month following her confirmation at the helm of the Commission.
The rise in litigation from the EEOC brings its total number of lawsuits filed for the year to 44 through June 8. This number brings the agency more in line with its aggressive trends during recent years. Of the 17 lawsuits the Agency filed in the month following the confirmation of its new Commissioner, 5 of them arise from sexual harassment allegations, and 3 from disability discrimination allegations. Based on years past, we can expect the EEOC to continue to focus on these two areas of interest as it has begun to file more lawsuits in these two domains than ever before. The EEOC still has its typically busy September month ahead, thus we can anticipate the Commission’s overall case filing numbers to continue to steadily rise through the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year.