What is recoverable in a workplace discrimination action?

Those who have been subjected to employee discrimination have legal rights. These individuals can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and, through the legal process, compensation can be sought. However, before moving forward with a claim, it is important to know what, exactly, one may be able to recover from the process.

When it comes to workplace discrimination, the ultimate goal of the law is to put the victim in the same position he or she would have been in if the discrimination had not occurred. Therefore, a victim of discrimination may be able to be given a promotion or a job if the discrimination occurred during the promotion or hiring process. Additionally, a victim might be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages seek to make an individual whole again after repaying out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the employer's wrongdoing. This means medical expenses and money spent searching for another job may be recoverable. These damages may also seek to compensate a victim for pain and suffering losses, such as mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. Punitive damages, on the other hand, seek to punish the wrongdoer. By doing so, it is hoped that the employer will no longer engage in that behavior.

It is worth noting that there are limits on how much compensation can be recovered from an employer who discriminates. The exact amount recoverable depends on several factors, including the extent of the harm suffered and the size of the employer. Therefore, victims of harassment and workplace discrimination should consider having their case assessed by a legal professional who may be able to help them get a better feel for their chances of recovery and, if likely, how much may be recoverable.

Source: EEOC, "Remedies For Employment Discrimination," accessed on Apr. 19, 2015

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