EEOC Issues Federal Workforce Report, Shows Gains for People with Targeted Disabilities

Last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its Annual Report on the Federal Workforce for the fiscal year 2019.

The United States federal government is the nation’s largest employer with approximately 3 million employees. These reports are prepared to measure the federal government’s process toward promoting equal employment opportunity and an inclusive work culture. This annual data on the status of the federal workforce helps focus efforts to better make it a model employer regarding the protection of civil rights.

The report reveals encouraging news on the status of people with targeted disabilities in the federal workforce. The overall participation rate of this population rose from 1.05% in FY 2003 to 1.80% in FY 2019 – a 71% gain. According to the EEOC, it is believed that this increase was driven by increases in the participation rates of individuals with serious difficulty hearing, serious difficulty seeing, and significant psychiatric disorders.

The report reveals that the federal government mirrors the private sector in one other key aspect. Of the 15,070 formal discrimination complaints that were filed in FY 2019, the basis most frequently alleged was retaliation – 7,487 or nearly 50% of all complaints. The second and third most common bases in the federal sector are physical disability (4,252 or 28%) and age discrimination (4,382 or 29%). Similarly, in the private sector, retaliation ahs been the most common basis for charges for many years.

The report reveals many other significant and interesting findings:

  • EEOC investigators spent, on average, 227 days to complete investigations during FY 2019, which is an increase of 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 government-wide settlement pay-out of roughly $3.1 million, down from $3.6 million in FY 2018.
  • The total number of findings of discrimination, including administrative decisions and final agency decisions, has increased from 139 in FY 2018 to 175 in FY 2019 – a 25% increase.
  • In FY 2019, the monetary benefits obtained through settlements and awarded for findings of discrimination at the complaint stage, including administrative decisions and final agency decisions, amounted to over $53 million, a 1.7% increase since FY 2018.

Of course, this report provides a pre-COVID snapshot of the federal workforce. As subsequent reports are issued for FY 2020, 2021, and 2022, it will be interesting to see how the pandemic has affected the status of civil rights among the federal workforce.

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