What Damages Are Available In A Discrimination Lawsuit?
Before addressing the specific types of damages that are available in a discrimination lawsuit, let’s discuss what you have to do to even bring a lawsuit. Before filing a lawsuit, you first have to file with the EEOC. The EEOC will begin an investigative process, and at the end of that process, they will do one of two things: file a lawsuit against your employer on your behalf or decline to file a lawsuit on your behalf but inform you that you’re free to file a lawsuit on your own. The letter you receive at the end of the EEOC process is called the “Right to Sue Letter.”
Typically, a lawsuit for discrimination is going to start a minimum of six months to a year after the discrimination occurs. It can take up to 180 days to file and several months for the EEOC to get through its process, and only then do you have the right to sue. With that as background, if you were to sue, you would be able to collect lost wages. If you had to take a job that paid less than your previous job, then you would be entitled to receive the difference in wage between your old and new job. Depending on the circumstances, you might also have the right to receive compensatory damages. Broadly speaking, compensatory damages are intended to compensate you for the emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-monetary losses that you suffered from having been discriminated against and wrongfully terminated.
In some cases, punitive damages are available. If you have a case where you’re entitled to punitive damages, it will mean that your employer treated you so badly that it was obvious that they were motivated by one of the factors that they’re not allowed to consider in making employment decisions, and that they knew it was illegal for them to treat you that way. Essentially, the court will decide to punish them for having been such bad people. The employer will not be punished for their actions if there’s any doubt about whether they were motivated by one of the illegal factors. Punitive damages are only going to be available if the actions were so bad and the evidence is so overwhelming that the courts find it necessary to punish that employer.
Punitive damages are often granted in cases that involve sexual harassment, which is a type of sex discrimination. If a supervisor makes your continued employment or a promotion conditional upon your submitting to their sexual advances and there’s no doubt that that happened, then there could be punitive damages. This is especially true where you can show that management knew about the harassment and did nothing about it. Short of that, it’s very difficult to get punitive damages. To summarize, the available damages can generally be categorized as lost wages, compensatory damages for emotional turmoil, and punitive damages if the employer undisputedly acted in a very bad way that needs to be punished by the courts.
For more information on Damages In A Discrimination Lawsuit, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (480) 378-2400 today.
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