By Meghan Droste, December 11, 2019
With the year (and the decade!) rapidly coming to a close, I decided to forgo our usual discussion of tips to avoid trouble with the Commission, and instead review some good news from the EEOC. In its recent Agency Financial Report, the Commission touts multiple improvements in the processing of federal sector complaints in FY19, even while it faced a noticeable increase in both hearing requests and appeals.
As any federal sector practitioner can tell you, part of why the EEO process takes so long is the sheer number of cases pending before the Commission at any time. The Commission has been making a significant effort in recent years to reduce the number of cases pending before both administrative judges and the Office of Federal Operations (OFO). The improvements continued in FY19, although not always outpacing those from FY18.
In FY19, the Commission resolved an impressive 10,608 federal sector hearing requests, up from 8,662 in FY18. These decisions resulted in $87.8 million in relief for complainants, a slight increase from $85 million the prior year. The total inventory of pending cases only decreased by 5 percent, down from a decrease of 8.6 percent in FY18, because the Commission saw an increase in the number of hearing requests complainants filed in FY19. The Commission also received a larger number of appeals in FY19, and issued 4,094 decisions. That is a slight decrease from the 4,320 it issued in FY18.
The decisions resulted in $12.8 million in relief for appellants, down from $13.6 million in FY18. Perhaps most notably, the Commission reduced the number of appeals pending for more than 500 days from 601 in FY18 to just 97 in FY19.
There is obviously still room for improvement. The numbers of pending hearing requests and appeals are still high, and anecdotally, I can share that attorneys representing complainants have noticed that some of the decrease inventory seems to come from judges issuing summary judgment sua sponte before discovery in cases where it may not be appropriate (which will just lead to an increase in the number of appeals). Even with these caveats, I still think it is worth applauding the Commission’s efforts in 2019. Hopefully this time next year they will have even more good news to share!
And with that, dear readers, I wish you a happy and healthy new year!