Claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have increased in the last two consecutive years. In 2016 alone, the EEOC took on 97,443 charges and obtained $482 million in awards for retaliation and discrimination claims through litigation and arbitration. Age, race and disability were among the top three complaint categories.1

Since 2013, the EEOC has been tracking claims of LGBT discrimination. Last year, they resolved a record 1,650 discrimination charges filed by LGBT applicants or employees across private sector and government organizations, recovering $4.4 million in settlement awards in 2016 alone.1

While the EEOC doesn’t try every case it receives, the cases it does take on usually garner significant settlements with employers. Today, more than ever, employers must be vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves against EEOC discrimination claims.  

Best Practices to Minimize EEOC Discrimination Claims

While it is impossible to prevent all EEOC discrimination claims, taking proactive steps will reduce their frequency and severity. Here are some best practices:

  1. Adopt a strong anti-discrimination policy. Include a clear explanation of prohibited conduct and make sure it adheres to federal and local state laws simultaneously.  
  2. Let employees complain. Establish a clear complaint process. Larger corporations should consider a confidential hotline for employees to call and report complaints, while smaller organizations may appoint someone in HR to take employee grievances in confidence. 
  3. Train employees and managers. Train employees and managers on your anti-discrimination policies and procedures annually, and when federal and state laws or your policy changes.
  4. Monitor compensation practices and performance appraisals for discrimination patterns. Make sure performance appraisals are based on objective and measurable criteria. 
  5. Foster open communication and early dispute resolution. Hopefully, this will minimize issues escalating into legally actionable problems.
  6. Recruit, hire, and promote with equal employment opportunity principles in mind. Ensure selection criteria do not exclude certain groups. Use criteria that are valid predictors of successful job performance and meet the employer’s business needs.
  7. Make promotion criteria known. Make sure promotion opportunities are communicated to all groups of employees.   
  8. Notify your broker or Employment Practices Liability (EPL) insurance carrier as soon as a claim arises, including an administrative charge filed with a state agency or the EEOC. If the carrier isn’t notified right away, they could deny coverage when your seemingly small EPL issue becomes a full-blown EEOC discrimination case, or worse, litigation.   

Discrimination is a Risk Management Issue   

As local and state laws on discrimination change and workplace claims continue to rise, it’s challenging for organizations to remain vigilant. Contact your HUB broker and let us help you manage this risk.

[1] U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.