Most claimants want to know—upfront—the probability of a successful law suit. Frankly speaking — it depends. Did you lose wages? How long did it take you to replace your job? Did you hire an attorney? Did you see a psychologist for emotional distress? Did your psychologist or medical provider indicate in your file that your emotional distress was on account of the discrimination you experienced at work? How fickle is your employer about discrimination lawsuits?
I think about all these questions and issues when assessing the damages my client can realistically anticipate. Typically, under Title VII (the federal law under which most discrimination claims are filed), you can recover:
• Lost wages- Wages that you lost because your employer discriminated against you based on a protected characteristic.
• Emotional distress damages- Pain and suffering because of the discrimination.
• Attorney fees- Money paid to your attorney to pursue your claims .
• Punitive damages- Money award that is meant to punish your employer for engaging in bad behavior that is especially egregious, so not all lawsuits qualify.
Unfortunately, however, there is a ceiling (cap) on the amount of emotional distress and punitive damages that you can collect, based solely on the number of employees that your employer employed at the time of discrimination.
You can read more about damages at: https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/remedies.cfm.
So, although you were ill-treated, not all lawsuits are worth the effort. For instance, if you were discriminated against but replaced your job pretty quickly and at an amount paying more than your past-discriminatory employer, your entitlements may be minimal. But if it took you a long time to secure a better paying job or if you were only able to obtain a job paying you less, a lawsuit will likely make you whole (i.e., you can recoup your financial loss that occurred because of the discrimination).
Notably, Last week, I wrote about gender discrimination and how it has impacted track star Allyson Felix. I noted that Allyson Felix’s contract negotiations with Nike came to a standstill after she requested guarantees in her contract that she wouldn’t be financially penalized during the months following childbirth. Nike wouldn’t agree to Felix’s demands but here’s the update (if you don’t already know): After qualifying for the 4×400 relay pool (BTW, who qualifies for a 400 relay team less than 9 months after pregnancy!([email protected]!(@*! #onlyawomanwithtalent&heart!), Felix signed with Athletha, a company who Felix says shares her passion for empowering all women athletes—including mothers—to pursue their goals in sports. I include this update to because it’s important to note that sometimes a win simply means peace of mind and a better sponsor (employer). It’s not all dollars and cents.
I’m a Board Certified Labor & Employment Attorney and I Love Track & Field. #lega