Retaliation most common charge filed with EEOC in 2019

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released statistics about charges of employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation filed with the agency in 2019. Retaliation was the most common charge, both nationally and here in Kentucky.

The EEOC is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal workplace anti-discrimination laws. Kentuckians alleging illegal employment discrimination may file their charges with the EEOC or with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights (KCHR), our state counterpart. The EEOC and the KCHR have a cooperative work-sharing agreement so an individual may file their charge with either and request that it be cross-filed with the other agency as well.

2019 EEOC data

Of the 72,675 charges filed with the EEOC in 2019, 39,110 (53.8%) were for, or included, retaliation. An employer retaliates against an employee by taking an adverse, or negative, employment action (such as termination, suspension, or demotion) against an employee after the employee engaged in a “protected activity” (such as complaining of sexual harassment, reporting allegedly discriminatory treatment, or participating as a witness in an EEOC investigation or a co-worker’s discrimination or harassment lawsuit).

Aside from retaliation, disability discrimination, race discrimination, and sex discrimination made up the majority of charges filed with the EEOC:

  • Disability – 24,238 (33.4%)
  • Race – 23,976 (33%)
  • Sex – 23,976 (32.4%)
  • Age – 15,573 (21.4%)
  • National origin – 7,009 (9.6%)
  • Color – 3,415 (4.7%)
  • Religion – 2,725 (3.7%)
  • Equal Pay Act – 1,117 (1.5%)
  • Genetic information – 209 (0.3%)

(Total percentage is greater than 100% because of charges with multiple components.)

Kentucky charges by the numbers

Kentucky employees filed 687 charges with the EEOC in 2019, the second lowest number in a decade. Kentucky charges were less than 1% of the national total. Consistent with national filings, retaliation charges were the highest at 295 (42.9% of the total Kentucky charges).

Kentuckians filed charge types in similar proportions to filers nationally, with disability, race, and sex discrimination charges leading the way:

  • Race – 277 (40.3%)
  • Disability – 247 (36%)
  • Sex – 203 (29.5%)
  • Age – 162 (23.6%)
  • National origin – 42 (6.1%)
  • Religion – 33 (4.8%)
  • Color – 31 (4.5%)
  • Equal Pay Act – 10 (1.5%)
  • Genetic information – 2 (0.3%)

Any Kentuckian with questions about potential legal remedies for employment discrimination should talk to an experienced lawyer. Similarly, a Kentucky employer should develop a relationship with knowledgeable legal counsel to understand workplace responsibilities to prevent unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, as well as for guidance and representation in responding to internal complaints, EEOC, and KCHR charges, or state or federal lawsuits.


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