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Monday, February 9, 2015

Odds Of Getting EEOC To File Suit For You? Not Much Better Than Odds Of Getting Struck By Lightning

EEOC has issued its 2014 Performance Report and the big news everyone announced was that the number of charges dropped. What I found disturbing when I read the summary was that there were 88,778 charges filed nationwide, and of those EEOC only filed 133 "merit" suits, that is, suits where they found cause and decided to sue on behalf of an individual or group of employees.

So the odds of having EEOC sue on your behalf are .1% (133/88778=.001), or about 1 in 1000. Now, when I'm telling clients that they shouldn't hold their breath and hope for EEOC to file suit on their behalf, I usually say that the odds are about the same as getting struck by lightning, and I laugh. I thought I was being facetious. So I looked it up.

The odds of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime are about 1/3000. So you're about three times as likely to have EEOC file a suit on your behalf as you are to be struck by lightning. Not great odds.

Here in Florida, the odds of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime are probably higher. There were 7528 EEOC charges filed in Florida in 2014. I've asked for the number of merit suits filed and if it isn't more than 3 (I only found press releases for two) then the odds here are about the same as getting struck.

So, when employers complain that EEOC isn't fair to them, I'll add this to my list of why I'll only play them the world's smallest violin.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.