People With Targeted Disabilities Show Gains; Retaliation Tops Complaint Bases

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released its Annual Report on the Federal Workforce for fiscal year 2019.

“The federal government is the nation’s largest employer, with just under 3 million employees, and reports like this are important to measure the federal sector’s progress in promoting equal employ­ment opportunity and an inclusive work culture,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows.  “Although only a snapshot, annual data on the federal workforce helps us focus our efforts to make the federal government a model employer with respect to protection of civil rights.”

The report revealed some encouraging news about people with targeted disabilities in the federal sector. The overall participation rate of this population rose from 1.05% in FY 2003 to 1.80% in FY 2019 – a 71% gain. This was driven by increases in the participation rates of individuals with serious difficulty hearing, serious difficulty seeing, and significant psychiatric disorders, the EEOC said.

The report showed that the federal government mirrors the private sector in one key respect — of the 15,070 formal discrimination complaints filed in FY 2019, the basis most frequently alleged was reprisal/retaliation (7,487 charges). Retaliation has also been the most common basis for discrimination charges in the private sector for many years now.

The second and third most common bases in the federal sector are physical disability (4,252 complaints) and age (4,382) discrimination.

Carlton Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, said, “We continue to see slow but steady progress in the federal sector with regard to key indicators of the EEOC’s mission to foster inclusiveness and eliminate discrimination.”

Among other significant findings:

  • There were 36,348 counselings completed during FY 2019, with an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offer rate of 87.06%, an ADR acceptance rate of 54.10%, and an ADR resolution rate of 66.50%.

  • EEOC investigators spent, on average, 227 days to complete investigations during FY 2019, up 20% from the previous year. The average cost of an investigation was $4,288.

  • The average monetary pre-complaint settlement was $4,023 per settlement, with a total governmentwide settlement pay-out of roughly $3.1 million, down from $3.6 million in FY 2018.

  • The total number of findings of discrimination, including AJ decisions and final agency deci­sions, have increased from 139 in FY 2018 to 175 in FY 2019 – over a 25% increase.

  • In FY 2019, the monetary benefits obtained through settlements and awarded for findings of discrimination at the complaint stage, including AJ decisions and final agency decisions, amounted to over $53 million, a 1.7% increase since FY 2018.

  • 4% of agencies reported that the immediate supervisor of the EEO director was the agency head.

The annual report informs and advises the President and the Congress on the state of equal employment opportunity (EEO) throughout the federal government. Data in the report, available online at , are presented in governmentwide aggregate form with agency-specific appendix tables.

The entire report is also available in pdf format here.

 The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.