A new annual report from the EEOC touts continued progress in reducing what it calls “aged” cases involving federal employee complaints, saying a backlog of cases pending for more than 500 days was reduced from more than 1,500 in 2016 to 66 in 2020.
It said the agency is “focused on resolving the oldest federal sector appeals as well as those that vindicate employees’ legal rights or preserve their access to the EEO complaint process . . . The hearings program focused on resolving older cases in the inventory and utilized case management strategies to balance field inventories through the resolution of older cases and the closure of incoming cases.”
The time that elapses before complaints of discrimination and other banned personnel practices are resolved through the multi-level federal EEO process has long been a sore point both for the employees and management officials involved.
The overall inventory of pending hearing requests decreased from just under 13,000 to just under 11,000 over 2019-2020 and the hearings program resolved 9,897 hearing requests in 2020, it said. The average age of the overall pending appellate inventory meanwhile reduced by 6 percent to 220 days from 2019, with more than 1,000 of the total appeal resolutions issued within 180 days of receipt.
Those included 779 initial appeals from procedural dismissals that terminated complainants’ participation in the EEO process, reversing nearly 33 percent with an order to the agency to continue processing the complaint.
It said an online portal launched in 2019 “continued to yield efficiencies in case processing in the federal sector because complainants can use the portal to submit their hearing requests, upload documents, view the status of their complaints, and file appeals.”
“In addition, through training and educational outreach, the EEOC has partnered with federal agencies to speed record submissions, perfect defective records, and reduce wasted efforts spent on records not ripe for adjudication. These technological innovations make the appellate process more transparent for all parties and will reduce EEOC’s reliance on and costs for support staff to prepare and scan paper documentation received from the parties,” it said.