Discrimination in the workplace is more common that we might think it is. An employment discrimination lawsuit is adjudicated in civil courts. This means that the plaintiff, in such cases, the employee, has the burden of proof. In other words, he or she must show evidence that there was discrimination in the workplace.
The amount of compensation that can be typically recovered from a workplace discrimination lawsuit depends on the nature and severity of the discriminatory practices. The more egregious the discrimination and more severe the losses suffered by the victim, the greater the value of the case could be.
Damages in a Discrimination Case
Here are some of the common types of damages you may seek in a workplace discrimination case:
Back pay: The term “back pay” refers to lost earnings as a result of the discrimination, from the date of the discriminatory act to the date of the settlement or judgment in the plaintiff's favor. So, for example, if a jury determines that your employer fired you because of your age, you could be awarded back pay from the date of your firing to the date the jury decided in your favor.
Front pay: This refers to lost earnings as a result of the discrimination. Front pay essentially compensates you for wages you will likely lose in the future as a result of the act of discrimination. The end date for the front pay depends on how long you continue to lose pay. For example, if you are able to show evidence that you won't be able to find another job for six months or a year, you will be awarded front pay for that duration. A plaintiff can prove this by bringing forth an expert to testify at the trial.
Lost Benefits: As part of a workplace discrimination lawsuit, you may also be able to recover damages for lost job benefits. These benefits can include health care coverage, dental and vision coverage, pension or 401k plans, stock options and other types of profit-sharing plans. While it can be challenging to quantify the value of lost benefits in dollars, your employment lawyer will be able to do so with the help of a qualified expert.
Attorney's fees and punitive damages: Punitive damages are intended to punish or deter defendants from engaging in especially egregious conduct. The amount of such damages is entirely up to the jury. In addition to the damages you may be able to recover for your losses, you may also be able to ask for and get attorneys' fees. This means that the defendant will have to pay the amount you spent in attorneys' fees. This also means that the fees won't cut into your monetary recovery. A majority of plaintiffs' attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, which means they take a percentage of what they recover for you as their fees.
Damages for Emotional Distress
When it comes to discrimination in the workplace, in addition to monetary losses, victims could suffer a significant amount of emotional distress as well. Emotional distress could cover a range of issues in the context of a workplace discrimination lawsuit including but not limited to depression, anxiety, inability to sleep, loss of life's enjoyment, harm to one's reputation and strained relationships with family members and friends.
In order to receive damages for pain and suffering, plaintiffs must prove that their employer's discriminatory behavior caused the emotional harm they suffered. Some of the important issues to consider when you are trying to evaluate the extent of emotional distress damages in a discrimination lawsuit include:
- The severity of the discriminatory behavior.
- The time period for which the discriminatory behavior lasted.
- The severity and duration of the emotional harm.
- If the plaintiff sought counseling or professional treatment from a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or some other professional.
Proving Emotional Distress
If you are seeking compensatory damages for emotional distress in a workplace discrimination case, you need to provide evidence that you did in fact suffer emotional distress. For example, if you say that your discrimination caused you to suffer depression, you may have to provide medical evidence or testimony from a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor who can corroborate the fact that you went into depression as a result of mistreatment, in this case, discrimination at work.
However, it is not necessary to actually have a medical professional testify at the trial or even having sought such medical help. You may tell jurors about your experience of being emotionally affected. Through such testimony, jurors can learn about the impact your employer's discriminatory behavior had on your psyche and your general emotional well being.
This is why it can be extremely valuable to preserve as much evidence as possible of the emotional distress you suffered. This may exist in the form of emails, texts, internal memos, journals, etc. It is a good idea to maintain a journal describing your feelings and emotions. Your family members, friends and co-workers may also be able to provide statements corroborating such evidence, based on their observations of you.
Proving emotional distress can be challenging and complex. It is important to preserve any type of evidence that shows the extent of emotional harm that was caused and consult with an experienced Los Angeles workplace discrimination lawyer who can help you navigate what can be a lengthy process and assist you with compiling crucial evidence that could help bolster your case and maximize your chances to receive fair compensation for your losses.
Hiring an Experienced Employment Lawyer
Retaining the services of a knowledgeable Los Angeles employment discrimination attorney can be critical when it comes to obtaining maximum compensation. The experienced lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley have nearly four decades of experience fighting for the rights of employees and holding at-fault employers accountable. Our no-win-no-fee warranty ensures that you pay our fees only if we recover for you. We understand that facing any type of discrimination can take a physical, emotional and financial toll on you and your family. If you have faced workplace discrimination and would like to fight for justice, call our offices at 888-500-8469 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.