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Many harassment cases linger in EEOC backlog

The wave of sexual harassment accusations in Texas and the rest of the country has raised numerous challenges. Legislators have been pressured to enact legislation targeting workplace discrimination. Employers have reexamined their workplace policies regarding sexual harassment. And everyday employees are speaking out in defense of female colleagues who have been harassed.

Now, a new challenge has arisen regarding workplace sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been flooded with cases following the national outcry over sexual harassment in the workplace. As a result, the agency has a growing backlog of cases that has yet to be addressed.

Overwhelmed with sexual harassment claims

Currently, there are approximately 550 EEOC investigators working on nearly 100,000 cases. In 2017, it took an average of 543 days for a federal worker who filed a complaint with the EEOC to receive a resolution. For private-sector employees, the wait time averaged 295 days.

Not all of the EEOC's cases involve sexual harassment; some are based on other types of workplace discrimination. But representatives from the agency do say that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of sexual harassment claims filed. With a major surge in the number of sexual harassment claims that workers have filed with the agency, the number of cases on the back burner and the length of time before reaching a resolution are likely to increase. This means that many sexual harassment cases must languish in the agency's already-extensive backlog.

Employers and EEOC claims

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's backlog will have serious implications for employers. Employers whose employees have filed EEOC claims against them may have to wait even longer for their case to be resolved. And if an employee grows impatient with the length of time it takes for their case to go through the EEOC, they may decide to pursue litigation. Employers should retain an attorney who has experience in workplace discrimination allegations to address, expedite and resolve these cases with the EEOC.

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