All discrimination lawsuits start with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. By statute, all complaints of discrimination must be filed with the EEOC or a state equivalent agency. Since Texas has only one state equivalent agency in Austin, most folks have to start by filing a complaint with the EEOC. USA Today published an article discussing some problems at the EEOC in Dallas. That matters, because the Dallas office oversees the San Antonio and El Paso EEOC offices. Some EEOC workers have complained that the EEOC itself is discriminatory.
The article also provides some revealing information. For the time period 2015-2019, black persons submitted 7,100 complaints of discrimination to the EEOC. Of that number, only 13 were substantiated. That means the EEOC found evidence of discrimination in only 13 cases. So, in only about one on 550 cases did the EEOC substantiate claims of discrimination made by a black person. Compare that to all types of discrimination, including black discrimination. In 2019, the EEOC as a national level saw 83,500 claims of discrimination, filed by all sorts of victims including black persons. Of those 83,500, some 1,200 resulted in the EEOC substantiating claims of discrimination. Or, about one in 70. So, it appears the chances of the EEOC finding discrimination is much higher if you are a non-black claimant.
The EEOC responds that these numbers do not reflect cases that settled early. Sure, but all cases, black or non-black, have the same opportunity to settle early. These numbers suggest the EEOC cuts more effort into non-black claims of discrimination.
The EEOC has always walked a fine line between rooting out discrimination, while appearing to remain neutral. The EEOC is also often attacked by Republican presidents. Ronald Reagan reduced their budget substantially in the 1980’s. Pres. Trump’s Commissioner, Janet Dhilon, sought to make the EEOC more friendly to business. Under Ms. Dhilon’s watch, the EEOC filed only 93 lawsuits in 2020, down from 144, 199, and 184 in the prior three years. The agency now has 2,000 employees, the smallest number of workers in 30 years.
The Dallas office has seen 20 internally filed complaints of discrimination since 2011. The most recent complaint concerned the Black Lives Matter movement. One investigator sent an email supporting the BLM. That email resulted in substantial pushback. See USA Today report here.