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This month, the EEOC released its 2015 enforcement and litigation data to the public. The enforcement data provides great insight into national trends and what any compliance efforts should target.

In 2015, the EEOC received nearly 90,000 charges of discrimination. This number of charges was up slightly from 2014, but approximately 10,000 fewer charges than the high of nearly 100,000 in 2011.

The biggest year-to-year increases in 2015 were with retaliation charges and disability discrimination charges. In 2014, retaliation charges under all statutes totaled 37,955, while in 2015 retaliation charges added up to 39,757. This was an increase of nearly 5% from 2014 to 2015. Retaliation charges also continue to make up the largest group of charges filed with the EEOC.

Additionally, disability discrimination charges increased from 25,369 in 2014 to 26,968 in 2015. This was an increase of 6.3%. Disability discrimination charges continued an overall upward trend in 2015 that the EEOC has experienced since the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 went into effect.

Age discrimination claims continued a now four-year downward trend, making up just 20,144 total charges. This compares to 20,588 charges in 2014 and an overall high of 24,582 in the year 2008. This lowering trend follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., which held plaintiffs under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act must demonstrate that age was the “but for” cause of an adverse employment action. The biggest year-to-year drop by percentage occurred with Equal Pay Act charges, which totaled 333 in 2014 and just 257 in 2015. This was a fall of nearly 23%.

These EEOC statistics continue to show that any compliance efforts must include disability and retaliation training. As has been the case since 2008, the data shows that employees with disabilities tend to create the more legally difficult situations for employers to navigate. It should also come as no surprise that these numbers also suggest employers may be finding it difficult to respond to employees who bring charges of discrimination in the workplace. Annual training that incorporates education on identifying and properly addressing these legal issues should be considered an absolute necessity.

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