Front Pay Laws

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What Is Front Pay?

Front pay is a form of damages awarded in some employment claims involving wrongful termination or other kinds of workplace disputes. It usually represents the amount of wages that an employee would have earned if they were to be reinstated to the job they were wrongfully fired from or if they were promoted to a position that they were denied. 

Often, front pay is awarded as a form of compensation for wages that the former employee would have received if they had otherwise been employed during the period between a court judgment and reinstatement to the prior job title if they had been reinstated. It is very similar to back pay, except that it is awarded primarily in instances where reinstatement is not possible.

Is Front Pay Different From Future Earnings?

Yes, front pay is a different legal concept from that of “future earnings” or “future loss of earnings."  Front pay has to do with allowing an employee to recover wages that they would have received if they were reinstated after a wrongful termination, whereas future earnings deals more with compensating a person for the loss of their ability to continue to perform their current job in the future. 

An example of when front pay may be awarded is where an employee is wrongfully terminated based on employment discrimination. Instead of ordering the company to reinstate the employee to their position, a court will sometimes allow the employer to render the wages that the employee would have earned if not for the termination.  

Unlike front pay, future earnings or future loss of earning capacity is a type of damages awarded in some personal injury cases. Loss of future earnings refers to harm that a plaintiff suffers which results in a diminished capacity to earn wages in general, and it is not tied to wrongful termination. 

An example of lost future earnings is where a skilled worker suffers an injury to the hand which prevents them from performing their job properly in the future. Future earnings is therefore connected more with disability claims than with wrongful termination suits.   

Do I Need a Lawyer for Claims Involving Front Pay?

If you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, you may wish to contact an employment lawyer immediately. Your attorney can help you file a claim in court or with an administrative agency which will process your complaint. The employment laws of each state are different, so be sure to present any unique concerns you may have to your attorney. 

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Last Modified: 06-17-2014 05:03 PM PDT

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