In a recent bulletin, the EEOC announced that its efforts to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit and more quickly resolve investigations once the agency had sufficient information are beginning to pay off. In fiscal 2017, the EEOC resolved almost 100,000 charges and reduced the charge workload by over 16 percent, its lowest inventory in 10 years. During the same time period, almost 85,000 new charges were filed.
In what practitioners representing both employees and employers would agree is an understatement, EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic stated, “The pending inventory of private sector charges has been a longstanding issue for the EEOC and the public it serves.” The EEOC states that its average processing time is 10 months, but those who have had cases pending before the agency know that it often takes much longer to process charges, even though upwards of 2/3rds of those charges end in “no reasonable cause” determinations.
The agency obviously has acted in response to recent criticism for its backlog. In 2013, lawmakers urged the EEOC to stop “fishing” and dedicate its resources to investigating charges filed by employees. In 2016, the Senate introduced a bill (S. 2693) that would require the commission to use its funds to address the backlog before it could begin new initiatives such as collecting pay data.
Current EEOC leadership obviously has heard the message and taken action, and should be commended for it efforts. This is new good for employees and employers alike.