EEO Training Needs Vary by Geography


By Allen Smith January 14, 2016

Not sure how to allocate your equal employment opportunity training budget? A recent report can help you figure out where Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges are most likely to be filed. Charge data suggests that some of the greatest training needs are in Texas, other states in the South and the most populous states.

Location matters when it comes to the number and type of EEOC charges that are filed with the agency, according to Gerald Maatman Jr., an attorney with Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago and New York City, and co-author of the firm’s Jan. 4 report, EEOC-Initiated Litigation.

He described the agency’s decision-making on bringing claims as “diffuse.” Different regional directors have different interests.

John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, likes “big, high-impact cases, such as race and sex discrimination, and hiring and pay and promotions,” he said.

Debra Lawrence, regional attorney in Philadelphia, has a particular interest in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cases.

And Mary Jo O’Neil, regional attorney in Phoenix, has raised the profile of religious discrimination litigation, Maatman added.

EEOC headquarters priorities include ADA claims as well as litigation over blanket criminal background checks, which the agency maintains have an unlawful disparate impact on minorities, he observed.

Report Statistics

The most populous states and the South dominated the top 10 states for charges of discrimination based on race or color filed in 2015 with the agency:

  • Texas: 2,990.
  • Florida: 2,288.
  • California: 2,255.
  • Georgia: 2,103.
  • Illinois: 1,833.
  • Alabama: 1,796.
  • North Carolina: 1,694.
  • Tennessee: 1,543.
  • Virginia: 1,425.
  • Pennsylvania: 1,278.

A similar group led the list of states with the most charges based on gender discrimination:

  • Texas: 2,564.
  • Florida: 2,159.
  • California: 1,705.
  • Georgia: 1,517.
  • Illinois: 1,263.
  • North Carolina: 1,178.
  • New York: 1,125.
  • Pennsylvania: 1,102.
  • Tennessee: 948.
  • Virginia: 927.

Disability discrimination charges grouped differently:

  • Texas: 2,123.
  • Florida: 2,025.
  • California: 1,988.
  • Illinois: 1,362.
  • Pennsylvania: 1,315.
  • Georgia: 1,315.
  • North Carolina: 1,134.
  • New York: 980.
  • Ohio: 915.
  • Arizona: 908.

Texas also led states with age discrimination charge filings:

  • Texas: 1,889.
  • Florida: 1,750.
  • California: 1,569.
  • Pennsylvania: 1,086.
  • Illinois: 1,030.
  • Georgia: 926.
  • North Carolina: 864.
  • Ohio: 805.
  • New York: 789.
  • Indiana: 680.

The highest number of national origin discrimination charges were filed in Florida:

  • Florida: 1,353.
  • California: 1,101.
  • Texas: 1,093.
  • New York: 544.
  • Illinois: 492.
  • Arizona: 382.
  • North Carolina: 329.
  • Georgia: 324.
  • Pennsylvania: 299.
  • Virginia: 276.

Religious discrimination charges were far less common:

  • Florida: 311.
  • Texas: 300.
  • California: 282.
  • New York: 208.
  • North Carolina: 168.
  • Illinois: 154.
  • Pennsylvania: 148.
  • Georgia: 145.
  • Alabama: 140.
  • Virginia: 128.

Alabama had the largest number of Equal Pay Act charges with 112. It also had the largest number of Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act charges with 68.

Expected Results and Surprises

“Perhaps not surprisingly, the size of a given state’s population loosely correlates with the number of EEOC charges that are filed. California, Texas and Florida, the three states with the largest populations, hold the top three spots in overall filings, and often the top spots in each of the charge categories,” the report stated. 

“This correlation does not always hold, however. California holds none of the top spots despite having approximately 12 million more people than Texas, the next largest state,” the Seyfarth Shaw report added.

“Also interesting is the fact that New York, the fourth largest state, has a disproportionately low number of filings, coming in fourth or higher only in national origin and religious discrimination complaints, and not appearing at all in the top 10 for race/color discrimination complaints.”

By contrast, Alabama, the 24th most populous state, had the sixth-highest number of race/color discrimination complaints and the ninth-highest number of religious discrimination complaints.

Allen Smith, J.D., is the manager of workplace law content for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMlegaleditor.


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