Damages In Employment Discrimination Cases
We are often asked what sort of damages are appropriate in most types of employment cases, such as those arising under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination or arising under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
Under both statutes, you may ask the jury to consider awarding you damages for “pain and suffering.” These are non-liquidated (in other words, we do not tell the jury a specific amount, but we rather let them determine it on their own) for your subjective anger, distress, embarrassment and humiliation suffered as a result of whatever employment wrong was committed against you. These damages might be supported by competent and credible medical evidence or testimony, or not, as the case may be.
We will also ask the jury to consider, in rare cases, “punitive” damages. These damages are not meant to compensate you, but rather to deter the defendant in your particular claim from engaging in substantially similar conduct in the future. These damages are not always submitted to the jury for consideration and it is rare for a jury to make an award of punitive damages, but in certain cases of egregious conduct, they are appropriate to consider and appropriate to award.
You have the right to ask the jury for economic damages associated with any non-promotion, destructive transfer, failed raises or bonuses, or, of course, lost wages owing from termination. Lost wages may be “past” wages, that is to say, lost wages that ended before the jury trial, or might be “front” wages, meaning, wages going into the future. Sometimes these are not really wages, but rather lost pension benefits, pension contributions, or the like.
Lately, you have the right to have the judge award you extra damages representing the attorney’s fees and costs invested by the firm in order to obtain your successful verdict. These damages represented by the firm’s attorneys fees are added to your total recovery from which contingent fees are then calculated. The fees “shift” from the successful plaintiff to the unsuccessful defendant only when the plaintiff prevails.