According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or “EEOC,” the number of pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the federal agency dropped from 3,174 to 2,790 between the fiscal year 2017 and 2018. The EEOC is the federal agency tasked with enforcing the employment discrimination laws of the United States. A separate organization enforces Colorado’s state-specific anti-discrimination laws. This is the lowest number of pregnancy discrimination charges submitted to EEOC since 2010 and represents about a 12% drop in the number of claims filed in fiscal year 2017.
The reason for the drop in the number of claims is not entirely clear, but what is especially interesting is that, despite the drop, the EEOC reports that it collected $16.6 million in benefits on behalf of pregnant women who alleged their employers discriminated against them because they were pregnant.
This figure is over 10% higher than the amount of benefits collected in fiscal year 2017 and is the second highest dollar amount of benefits collected since 2010. Moreover, the number of cases which the EEOC closed out with a finding of reasonable cause that pregnancy discrimination had occurred was relatively high at 183 such cases.
What the numbers suggest is that while fewer employees may be taking matters to the EEOC, the agency is handling those claims it does receive with noteworthy zeal, perhaps more so than in prior years. It is important that employees remember that, even after the EEOC issues a finding of reasonable cause, it will not necessarily sue on an employee’s behalf, as it may decline to do so for practical reasons.