The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 91,503 charges of workplace discrimination in in fiscal year 2016 — the second year in a row that the number of charges has increased, the agency reports. The EEOC says it resolved 97,443 charges of discrimination and secured more than $482 million for victims of discrimination through voluntary resolutions and litigation last year.
That’s according to the EEOC’s just-released annual summary of its enforcement and litigation data for the previous fiscal year, which this year — for the first time ever — includes detailed information about workplace discrimination charges filed by LGBT employees. The agency reports that it resolved 1,650 charges and recovered $4.4 million for LGBT individuals who filed sex discrimination charges with it during fiscal year 2016. The number of such charges filed by members of the LGBT community has steadily risen since the EEOC began collecting this information in 2013, with 4,000 charges filed between then and 2016.
The agency has been a strong advocate of workplace rights for LGBT employees, arguing that the protections afforded workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act extend to sexual orientation. In 2015, it ruled in favor of David Baldwin, a former Federal Aviation Administration employee who charged the FAA with discriminating against him because he is gay. In that case, the EEOC concluded that workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is indeed “sex-based” discrimination and therefore falls under the protection of Title VII.
It’s filed supporting briefs in a number of federal lawsuits by members of the LGBT community against their employers, including that of Kimberly Hively. Hively, a former adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, claims the college refused to allow her to interview for a full-time position or extend her contract because she is a lesbian. In late November the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in her case and is expected to issue a ruling later this year. According to reports, the 7th Circuit judges expressed sympathy toward the arguments put forth by Hively’s legal team. Should the court rule in her favor, it would be the first U.S. appellate court to expand Title VII’s protections to LGBT individuals.