EEOC handles record-breaking workload

Friday - 1/14/2011, 10:41am EST

Nicholas Inzeo, Director, Office of Field Programs, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is dealing with a record number of workplace discrimination claims. Workers in the private sector filed nearly 100,000 claims in fiscal 2010.

Nicholas Inzeo, director of the Office of Field Programs for the EEOC, tells Federal News Radio his staff has been working harder, "but we also think that we're working a little smarter."

Inzeo said the agency has been focusing for the past two years on rebuilding some of the staffing infrastructure lost over the prior eight years when the backlog of cases from from 30,000 to 85,000.

The key, said Inzeo, was establishing a three pronged approach that includes "aggressive case management techniques to assure the appropriate handling of charges."

As a result, the agency ended FY 2010 with 86,338 pending charges - an increase of only 570 charges, says a press release.

Inzeo said there two of the reasons for the record number of filings were changes to laws and a very successful effort at spreading the word about the agency. "More people know about EEOC," said Inzeo. "We've done a better job of going out to employee groups, to advocacy groups, as well as to business groups to provide education and outreach so that we know that we're here."

While the backlog has been dropping, said Inzeo, "the processing time has climbed to over 300 days. We certainly would like to see that come down. People who file complaints and employers against whom they're filed, would like to see us resolve these charges as quickly as we can. We need to be efficient in the way we work, we also need to be effective in the way we work."

So Inzeo is raising the bar for the time it takes to process a claim. "More than 300 days is too much," he said. "Certainly there was a period of time when we were below 200 days and I think we're better, I think we're more effective and that level."