A union representing many employees at the EEOC is questioning what the agency presented as a good-news development, a reduction in its longstanding backlog of complaints from private sector employees about alleged violations of anti-bias laws and other laws the agency enforces.
The EEOC called “dramatic” the decrease in what it calls its charge workload by 16 percent to its lowest level—61,600—in 10 years and attributed it to “new strategies to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit and more quickly resolve investigations once the agency had sufficient information” along with IT improvements.
“Early in the calendar year, we made addressing the backlog a priority. A primary point of this effort was to share strategies among our offices that have been particularly effective in dealing with the pending inventory, while ensuring we are capturing charges with merit. I thank EEOC’s employees for their work and congratulate them on this progress,” EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic said in a statement.
The AFGE union, however, rather than accepting the thanks on behalf of the employees it represents, called the decrease a “case dump” and “inconsistent with long-running statistics on EEOC’s workload challenges.” It noted that the backlog had been around or above the 70,000 level for years, decreasing only in one recent year previously.
“The backlog has always been a priority, interoffice communications is not new, and the digital charge system should eliminate paper — not cases,” the union said. It pointed to a change in performance metrics that it said pressures staff to reduce cases over a certain number of days old to below a percentile of their caseload.