By Diane Pietraszewski
The vast majority of all equal employment opportunity lawsuits are filed by individual employees or job applicants. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) may file cases on behalf of individuals, but it rarely does so because of limited resources. To get more “bang” for its litigation bucks, the EEOC is increasingly turning to “pattern-or-practice” cases. You should respond to any EEOC charges against your company with that in mind, crafting your responses to avoid creating issues that trigger federal court litigation funded by the agency.
EEOC Focus: Systemic Claims
In recent years, the EEOC has shifted much of its focus to systemic claims, otherwise known as pattern-or-practice claims, which target discriminatory patterns, practices, or policies that have a broad impact on certain groups of individuals. In 2005, for example, the EEOC created the Systemic Task Force for the primary purpose of improving its methods and strategies for targeting systemic discrimination. In fact, although the EEOC has recently filed fewer lawsuits on behalf of individual employees, the number of systemic discrimination lawsuits it has initiated has approximately doubled in the past 10 years. In 2010 alone, out of 165 systemic investigations, the agency obtained 29 settlements or conciliation agreements, bringing in approximately $6.7 million. read more…