The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will continue to focus on systemic investigations and litigation, says a report on the agency by law firm Littler Mendelson P.C.
The report, released Jan. 26, noted that the agency identified combating systemic discrimination as a top priority in a 2006 task force report.
"While the EEOC had been involved in systemic investigations long before the task force was formed, the commission clearly has been committed to expanding this initiative since 2006," says the report.
Barry A. Hartstein, a Chicago-based Littler shareholder who developed the report, said this is an agency focus "because of the limited resources" available to it to investigate individual acts of discrimination.
Other anticipated trends, according to the report, include:
• Equal pay. "While legislation to amend the Equal Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act has been stalled in Congress, this issue will remain front and center at the EEOC," in tandem with other federal agencies, says the report.
• Hiring issues. The report notes that the EEOC recently held a series of meetings to examine the impact of certain hiring practices on protected groups, including criminal history and credit reports. "Recent commission-initiated litigation also indicates this issue will remain among the forefront of the EEOC's systemic litigation agenda," says the report.
• Americans with Disabilities Act issues. Prior to enactment of the ADA Amendments Act, "disability issues were bogged down in litigation over individual coverage under the issue. For a period of time, EEOC-initiated cases could not even be filed without approval from the commission. Such hurdles have now been removed and the battleground has shifted to the reasonable accommodation process," says the report. "Vigorous enforcement can be expected in the coming year, as already has been the case over the past year."
Major sections of the 40-page report, "Annual Report on EEOC Developments: Fiscal Year 2011," include the EEOC regulatory agenda, along with related developments and planned agenda, and a review of noteworthy court opinions involving the EEOC.
In a report issued earlier this week, the EEOC said retaliation charges filed with the agency increased 3 percent in its 2011 fiscal year, accounting for the greatest proportion of charges filed, though the total number of charges remained basically flat.