Calculating Damages in an Workplace Discrimination or Sexual Harassment case
Most discrimination cases are not worth millions. The average employment law case just isn’t worth that much. There are three different types of damages.
Economic DamagesYou have your economic damages which is the salary you’ve lost. If you weren’t promoted, if you’re employer fired you for some discriminatory reason or maybe lost overtime. There’s a thousand different ways to lose money in the workplace because of discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, being stripped of your vacation pay all of that adds up.
But, now it’s going to be offset because if you are receiving unemployment, that’s money you’re being paid, that you’re being paid because you were fired, so that offsets, that’s subtracted from the amount of damages you’ve lost so far. You have a duty to find another job, so if they fired you, you have to apply for jobs. You have a duty to mitigate. Keep a journal of everything your doing trying to find new jobs to prove it.
Emotional DamagesThere’s emotional damages, now this is a pretty sticky issue in this field because everyone comes into my office, they’ve seen the news, they tell me about McDonald’s hot coffee going for millions and this and that. They say things to me like oh, employment discrimination cases are always worth milliionas. However, that is just not true 9 times out of 10.
Punitive DamagesThe last form of damages is punitive damages. Which come into play in the retaliation section of the federal laws and the New York State and New York City laws, where if you complain of discrimination or sexual harassment. If you participate in the investigation of discrimination or sexual harassment and then the employer comes after you. You engaged in a protected activity and now they’re after you. Well, they are retaliating.
The real question you have to ask and what you get to pose to a jury is how do we punish
this employer so they don’t do this again. How much money do we have to charge them? What do we have to do they learn to abide by these laws. If they don’t abide by the laws, if they are allowed to go after people who complain, then no one can complain and the law is dead.