Sexual harassment payouts reached all-time high in 2019

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says U.S. employers paid a record $68.2 million for sexual harassment violations in 2019, which eclipsed the previous record by $10 million as the #MeToo movement continues to encourage victims to come forward.

That headline is one of many takeaways as the EEOC released its annual report for fiscal year 2019, which ended in September. Payouts from sexual harassment claims jumped by 20% from 2018 and nearly doubled from five years ago.

 EEOC outlines other key statistics

In addition to the eye-opening amounts paid over sexual harassment, the EEOC highlighted other results in its report, including:

  • Sex discrimination cases rose: Claims rose over the previous year from 24,655 to 25,532.
  • Retaliation remains the most common complaint: Allegations against employers for retaliation were responsible for 54% of all claims filed, with more than 39,000 complaints.
  • Disability discrimination claims increased: Complaints alleging discrimination over disabilities were the second-highest type responsible for 20% of all claims.
  • LGBTQ claims become more common: Only 808 discrimination complaints related to sexual orientation and gender identity were filed in 2013 but increased to 1,868 in 2019, and total payouts have risen by 677% in the past six years.
  • More cases were resolved: The EEOC settled 180 lawsuits last year, a substantial increase over 2017 when only 125 pieces of litigation were resolved.

Victims receive nearly half a billion dollars in relief

Overall, the EEOC reported more than $486 million in payouts for workplace discrimination victims in 2019. That included $346 million through mediation, conciliation and other administrative enforcement for workers and applicants both in the private sector and in local and state governments. The agency also reported more than $100 million for federal employees and job applicants.

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