What Remedies Are Available in a Discrimination Case?
Many victims of discrimination in the workplace think their only option is to go find a job somewhere else. Other workers understand that they have legal rights but know that a complaint will go nowhere and will actually result in getting fired.
Realistically, being unemployed – either because you can no longer tolerate your current situation or in retaliation for exercising your rights – is not an option for most people. Thankfully, you do have options and you can hold your employer accountable. If you are being discriminated against at work or have been fired as a result of discrimination, a discrimination lawyer can help you pursue a claim.
Front and Back Pay
Whether you were denied employment or a promotion or were simply terminated, the fact is that there is an actual economic cost you must bear as a victim of discrimination. As a result, you may therefore be entitled to compensation for any unpaid wages, benefits, or other compensation you would have received if you hadn’t been discriminated against. Generally speaking, this includes two types of compensation:
- Back pay: wages and benefits that you would have received had you not been discriminated against
- Front pay: wages and benefits that you would be receiving while you look for a comparable job
Front pay is only awarded in cases where reinstatement is not feasible. For example, if you were terminated for discriminatory reasons, you may be entitled to all of the compensation you would have received up until the date you got your job back. If getting your job back is not an option, you may be entitled to both your back pay as well as front pay until you find a comparable job. A knowledgeable discrimination lawyer will be able to determine what compensation you may be entitled to.
Other Compensatory Damages
Employees who have suffered work-related discrimination may experience intense anxiety, deep depression, and even a decline in their physical health as a result of stress, resulting in significant medical expenses. They may also need to hire a career counselor or incur other costs in order to find another job.
If you have been discriminated against at work, you may therefore be entitled to compensation for the following:
- Your expenses incurred for professional therapy or counseling
- Any medical bills arising from the discrimination
- Costs and expenses related to your job search
You may also be entitled to compensation for your non-economic damages such as mental and emotional anguish and damage to your professional reputation.
Punitive damages are damages intended to punish the at-fault party. In the context of an employment case, you may be able to pursue punitive damages against your employer if their conduct was especially egregious, willful, or malicious. A seasoned discrimination lawyer will know when punitive damages may be available.
Injunctive relief is often overlooked but is an extremely powerful remedy. Obtaining injunctive relief essentially involves obtaining a court order that would require your employer to take specific actions. If the court finds that your employer engaged in discrimination, the court may order them to take the following steps:
- Halt any discriminatory actions immediately
- Require employees and managers to attend anti-discrimination training
- Implement an anti-discrimination policy and ensure its enforcement
Generally speaking, the injunctive relief ordered by the court will be tailored to the specific circumstances of your case. For example, the court may require only certain employees to attend anti-discrimination training in some cases, whereas they may order all management personnel to attend in cases where the discrimination involved a systemic failure.
Injunctive relief also allows for the employee to be reinstated to their former position if they were fired or placed in the position they should have been promoted to. If the person was not hired for discriminatory reasons, the court may order that they be hired for the job they applied for. Again, the court may take this action only if it makes sense. For example, ordering that the employee be reinstated would not be a good solution if there is outright hostility between the employee and their co-workers.
Injunctive relief can be extremely empowering for an employee who has suffered as a result of discrimination. Injunctive relief can also make the workplace better for everyone – not only does it address issues in that particular workplace, but it sends a clear message that discrimination will not be tolerated. An experienced discrimination lawyer can discuss what injunctive relief may be appropriate in your case.
Attorney’s Fees and Costs
Both state and federal law allows employees to seek recovery of their attorney’s fees and costs. This is to incentivize employees to come forward if they have suffered as a result of discrimination. If your claim is successful, it is very likely that the court will order your employer to pay your attorney’s fees, court costs, and other expenses related to pursuing your claim.
You May Be Entitled to Multiple Remedies
You do not have to choose only one remedy to pursue to the exclusion of the others. In fact, most discrimination claims include a monetary claim and seek injunctive relief. For example, you may seek payment of your back wages and that you be placed in the position you would have been promoted to had you not been discriminated against. If you were terminated and are primarily interested in collecting your back pay, you may want the court to order your employer to attend anti-discriminatory training even if you have no desire to return. Your lawyer can explain what remedies you may be entitled to pursue and which ones make the most sense in your case.
Talk to a Discrimination Lawyer at Attorneys for Employees Today
Understanding the remedies available is an important step in deciding how to proceed. A discrimination lawyer from Attorneys for Employees can help you get the compensation you need to get back on your feet and hold your employer accountable. Let’s discuss your case and how we can help – contact us today at 310-601-1330 to schedule a consultation.