What Remedies Are There for Employment Discrimination Cases?
The remedy available in an employment discrimination case will depend in part on the facts of the case and the statute violated. Remedies that are often used include:
Reinstatement or Hiring - If the plaintiff was fired unlawfully, he will be rehired with no loss of seniority. If the employer unlawfully refused to hire the plaintiff, he will be hired and credited with the seniority that would have come from being hired earlier. If there is no vacancy, the court can order the employer to pay the plaintiff front pay, which is an estimate of what he would have earned in the future had he been hired.
Back Pay - The plaintiff will receive the pay that he would have received from the date of the discrimination to the court judgment. This will include wages, probable overtime payments, sick leave, vacation time, pension benefits, health insurance, and any other benefits. This amount will be reduced by anything the plaintiff did receive over this period.
Compensatory Damages - In cases falling under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the plaintiff can sometimes recover compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are somewhat imprecise and difficult to measure because they include things that have no clear monetary value such as humiliation, emotional distress, inconvenience, and loss of reputation.
Punitive Damages - Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in cases arising under Title VII or the ADA when the plaintiff demonstrates that the employer acted with malice or with reckless disregard for the plaintiff's rights. There are very specific rules regarding when an employer will be required to pay punitive damages, and most cases do not include them.
Attorney Fees - A plaintiff can recover attorney fees under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the ADA. The plaintiff can also recover costs, which include filing fees, transcripts, and other costs not included in attorney fees.
Most federal statutes have caps on recovery for compensatory and punitive damages that range from $50,000 to $300,000 in combined recovery. Back pay and front pay are excluded from these caps.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The laws regarding employment discrimination cases can be very complicated and difficult to understand. If you feel that you have been the victim of employment discrimination, an experienced employment attorney can advise you of your rights and help you determine your likelihood of recovery. A lawyer can also help you with the complex procedural aspects of filing a claim, as well as represent you in court.
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