EEOC Federal Work Force Report Reveals Steady Number of Disabled Workers, Drop in Complaint Process Efficiency

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) newly released annual report on the federal work force, the number of people with targeted disabilities in federal jobs held steady after a 13-year decline. The report also suggested that federal agencies were less efficient in handling complaint processes compared to the previous fiscal year.

EEOC’s Annual Report on the Federal Work Force for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 assessed the state of equal employment opportunity throughout the federal work force – including trends in the composition of the work force and data concerning complaints of employment discrimination in the federal sector – and includes practical tips for agencies to improve their performance.

In FY 2009, for the first time since FY 1995, the percentage of people with targeted disabilities in federal jobs held steady, halting a 13-year decline. However, despite a modest net gain of 236 employees in FY 2009 over FY 2008, people with targeted disabilities still remain below one percent (0.88 percent) of the total work force.

Targeted disabilities include deafness, blindness, missing extremities, partial or complete paralysis, convulsive disorders, mental retardation, mental illness and distortion of the limb and/or spine.

Additionally, over the last 10 years, EEOC has found that there have been subtle changes in the composition of the federal work force. Overall, the participation rates of women, Hispanic or Latinos and Asians have increased slightly. The number of women in the federal work force rose from 42.3 percent to 44.06 percent; Hispanics/Latinos from 6.81 percent to 7.90 percent; and Asian-Americans from 5.22 percent to 5.84 percent. The total work force increased by 15.09 percent

Complaint Process Efficiency

The report also found that federal agencies’ efficiency in the complaint process has slipped.

In FY 2009, federal employees and applicants filed 16,947 complaints alleging employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability and reprisal. Unlike the private sector, federal agencies themselves are responsible for processing and investigating charges of discrimination filed against them.

The average processing time for conducting investigations rose from 180 days in FY 2008 to 185 days in FY 2009. The average processing time for closing complaints was 344 days, an increase from the 336 days in FY 2008. Of the 6,905 cases closed on the merits, 2.98 percent resulted in findings of unlawful discrimination. In addition, the parties entered into settlements in 3,394 complaints, or 21 percent of the total complaint closures.

“As the largest employer in the nation, the federal government should lead the way in creating a diverse and just workplace,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “Government employers need to continue to recruit and promote employees who represent the tapestry of America. They must also improve the efficiency of the complaint process so that justice delayed is not justice denied. We look forward to assisting the federal government to become an exemplary employer.”

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at http://www.eeoc.gov.

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