WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released its report on the agency’s performance during the 2021 fiscal year and its proposed budget for fiscal year 2023.
Key fiscal 2021 performance metrics included higher recoveries through the administrative process; higher merit factor resolutions (resulting in nearly 1 in 5 charges resolved favorably to workers); rebuilding the litigation program, including by filing more lawsuits; and more successful mediations – both in number and benefits to charging parties. Federal sector recoveries saw increases as well.
During the pandemic there was a slight decrease in charge receipts and uptick in the pending charge inventory. Yet, despite historically low staffing levels, the agency was able to enhance technologies to ensure continuity of service, including through increased virtual mediations and online outreach events.
“EEOC rose to the occasion in fiscal year 2021. I am pleased that during fiscal year 2021, we could begin rebuilding EEOC’s capacity after having reached the lowest level of full-time employees since 1980, expand our virtual mediations and other online services to the public, and increase new litigation filings compared to fiscal year 2020,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “I’m particularly pleased that we increased our outreach to small businesses and our partnerships with organizations representing vulnerable workers – two groups hit hard by the pandemic,” said Burrows. “One of the biggest pandemic-related challenges for the EEOC has been to make sure that we reach those who most need our assistance. We have more work to do in this area as the pandemic has made clear the challenges of the digital divide.”
The President also released his 2023 Budget, which proposes $464.65 million for EEOC, including $31.5 million for state, local, and tribal programs. This represents a 10.6% increase over the 2022 enacted level. The 2023 Budget will allow the agency to continue rebuilding the agency’s capacity to meet its expanded responsibilities and the needs of the growing U.S. population.
The EEOC made a down payment on rebuilding the agency in fiscal year 2021 with the authorization of 450 hires – mostly front-line staff, including intake staff, investigators, mediators, and trial attorneys – and ended the year with over 2,100 employees. By comparison, the agency had just 1,939 employees in fiscal year 2020 and over 3,300 in fiscal year 1980. With the President’s Budget and robust workforce planning, the EEOC plans to add more full-time positions in fiscal year 2022 to bring our level up to 2,300 to improve our capacity to advance the agency’s mission and vigorously enforce the laws entrusted to the EEOC.
“Today, promoting equal employment opportunity and enforcing the nation’s federal workplace discrimination laws are as necessary as ever,” said Burrows. “We must strengthen and rebuild the agency to ensure the EEOC has the resources it needs to fulfill our mission and effectively enforce antidiscrimination laws. With the President’s Budget, the EEOC will focus on four broad areas: racial justice and combatting systemic discrimination on all protected bases, pay equity, addressing the civil rights impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and further strengthening the agency.”
Burrows said the proposed budget also will help advance three initiatives launched in 2021: the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity (HIRE), which aims to expand employment opportunities as the nation recovers from the pandemic; a joint anti-retaliation initiative with the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board; and an initiative to ensure that employment-related artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making tools comply with federal civil rights laws.
“Since EEOC opened its doors more than 60 years ago, our country has made substantial progress toward the goal of equal opportunity in our nation’s workplaces,” said Burrows. “Yet there is still a great deal to be done to ensure that the basic promise of our nation and our constitution, equality and justice for all, truly becomes a reality in America’s workplaces. That’s why it is critical that the Commission has sufficient staff and resources to achieve our mission.”