A $26 million budget increase combined with a recent political shift of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) likely means another aggressive year ahead for the commission. This comes after the EEOC filed 52% more employment discrimination lawsuits in fiscal year 2023 than fiscal year 2022.
In 2023, Democrats regained majority control of the EEOC for the first time since President Joe Biden took office. The mid-year move prompted an uptick in lawsuit filings that are expected to continue into 2024.
In January 2024 alone, the EEOC initiated multiple suits and settled eight discrimination-related lawsuits worth nearly $400,000. Most notably, Walmart will pay $60,000 after the EEOC charged the corporation for denying a female employee a promotion due to the fact that she had young children at home and therefore wasn’t interested in career advancement. A Pennsylvania-based healthcare company, Medsurant Health, will pay $80,000 after the EEOC charged it for paying a female employee less than her male counterpart, despite superior performance and credentials. The company then retaliated against her when she complained.
Looking ahead, the EEOC states that its priorities for fiscal years 2024-2028 include eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, protecting vulnerable workers from employment discrimination, addressing emerging issues such as pregnancy-related discrimination, backlash in response to current events, and discrimination related to Long COVID, advancing equal pay for all workers, preserving access to the legal system, and rectifying systemic harassment.