I worked as clerk/cashier in retail chain. I am male and If I spoke with a female customer of a different race a supervisor would take her aside and warn her about me. This did not happen if the female I spoke with was my race. The supervisor had a similar complaint made against her previously. Management did nothing effective. I continued to complain and I was transferred. Management there then coached 3 coworkers to lodge complaints against me. An investigation was conducted and it was determined that the complaints had no validity. My hours were severely cut. When I was only working 5 hrs. I resigned. I endured financial hardship and emotional distress. EEOC said that I could only get $300,000. What would be reasonable to request and/or settle for in this suit?
You need to talk with a local employment attorney for a credible evaluation of the value of any claim that you may make. But, please, don't get wedded to the idea of a $300,000 recovery. That amount will not happen on these facts, not even if every single thing in the whole course of the case were to go your way -- a very rare scenario.
Damages calculations usually start with the amount of wages that you were earning and go forward from there based on specific concrete losses (value of employment benefits, etc.). It is rare for external circumstances of financial hardship to be compensated and claims of emotional distress are also not ordinarily specifically included in the calculation. You have a duty to mitigate your damages by making legitimate and documentable efforts to find equivalent or better alternative employment.
Given that your former employer was a chain -- presumably a successful corporation -- you should anticipate a vigorous opposition to your claim. On the facts of this claim, you cannot count on your former employer wanting an early or quick settlement.
The EEOC is not your attorney in this matter and is not particularly well-skilled or well-equipped to resolve this matter in your favor. Many employment attorneys offer an initial consultation with no fee, and many employment cases are handled by attorneys without up-front payment by the client. There is no reason for you to be guessing at the potential recovery amount, relying on the EEOC, or going it alone. Check out www.nela.org for a good comprehensive listing of attorneys who practice in this field.
There are generally three types of damages that you could get in a Title VII discrimination or retaliation claim. First, if you were fired, you can get back pay. That is the money you would have made from the time you were terminated to the present. You allege a constructive discharge which is very difficult to prove in this state due to case law. Also, any interim earnings (from another job) are deducted from that amount and you are legally required to search for another job. Second, you can get emotional distress and punitive damages. These damages combined cannot exceed $300,000 if your employer has more than 500 employees. I can tell you from 15 years of handling these cases that a North Carolina jury is extremely unlikely to ward anywhere near that type of money even if you prove a Title VII violation. Finally, you can get attorneys fees and costs.
However, all of that contingent on you moving through the EEOC investigation, filing a lawsuit and then winning at trial. The EEOC process after mediation is likely to last at least a year. The lawsuit will take another 18 months to 2 years on top of that. From the company's perspective, there is no need to consider such large damages at this early stage even if you have great evidence to support your claim.
I recommend that you contact an employment attorney to get advise as to a reasonable range for you to demand and to accept during the mediation.
Employment law is complicated and fact specific. No one can assess the value of your case based on such scant information.
You may wish to consult with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney in your state. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in your area, please go to the web site of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.nela.org, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area.
Also, NELA has affiliates in every state and in many cities. On the NELA web site, you can look at the list of affiliates. Some attorneys will be listed in the affiliate membership list, some in the national organization membership list, and some in both. Being listed in one or both lists should not influence your selection because attorneys can choose whether or not to purchase the listing in the national directory. Each local affiliate has its own rules for listing.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
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