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EEOC cites success in fighting systemic bias, targets arbitration clauses

EEOC cites success in fighting systemic bias, targets arbitration clauses

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has had significant success in addressing systemic discrimination, although future challenges include employers' mandatory arbitration programs and barriers to pursuing class action litigation, the agency said in a report.

The 10-year review of the EEOC's systemic program, which was approved by the Commission in April 2006 and issued Thursday, concludes that the agency has had a 94% success rate in its systemic bias lawsuits.

Among other findings, the report says concerted efforts to reach voluntary resolutions of systemic investigations have resulted in the conciliation success rate tripling from 21% in fiscal year 2007 to 64% in fiscal year 2015, according to the report.

“EEOC has transformed its systemic program in the past decade by investing in staff, training, and technology to build systemic expertise in every EEOC district,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang in a statement

“These investments have produced a 250% increase in systemic investigations in the past five years. “As a direct result of EEOC's systemic work, more than 71,000 workers have received jobs and recovered lost wages, and many more have benefited from positive changes in workplace practices,” said Ms. Yang.

The report says an EEOC concern is mandatory arbitration policies, which “shield many industries and their employment practices from public scrutiny” and can “also deter workers from bringing discrimination claims to EEOC, leaving significant violations in entire segments of the workforce unreported.”

In addition, “Even when workers can pursue class actions, they must overcome challenges in certifying a class after the Supreme Court's decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores,” says the report.

However, the EEOC “can bring litigation regardless of arbitration bans on class actions, and can seek relief for all employees affected by an employer's discriminatory practices under a different standard than the procedural requirements for certification of private class actions,” says the report, which adds there is a “growing awareness” of the need for the EEOC to play a greater role in addressing systemic discrimination.

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