Best Ohio Employment Discrimination Lawyer Reply: How much is an employment lawsuit worth? Is it worth it to sue my old job for wrongfully firing me? What should I do if my boss is discriminating me at work because I’m a black woman?
As our employment discrimination attorneys are always blogging about, under both the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio’s R.C. § 4112.02(A) employees are protected from discrimination in the work place based on their race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, and disability. (See What Can I Do About Racist Customers? I Need The Top Race Discrimination Lawyers In Ohio!; Can My Boss Discriminate Against Me When I Get Pregnant? I Need The Top Lawyer In Ohio For Pregnancy Discrimination!;,and I Was Passed Up For A Promotion Because My Boss Thinks I’m Too Old. I Need The Top Age Discrimination Lawyer In Ohio!). Employees who are wrongfully fired based on this type of discrimination can get different types of damages, including economic and non-economic damages (emotional distress). Economic damages usually focus on back pay, which is the amount of lost wages lost up until the time of the verdict, and front pay, which is a projection of future lost wages until the wrongfully fired employee can get or should get an equivocally paying job. In today’s blog, our employment law lawyers focus on the issue of back pay.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently awarded an employee back pay in Gracia v. Sigmatron International, Inc. The former employee, Maria Gracia, had sued her employer for unlawful retaliation after she complained about workplace discrimination. Gracia was awarded $57,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages by the jury. She then sought equitable relief from the court. The court explained the burden shifting process as it relates to damages:
Once the jury has found that there has been employment discrimination, there is a presumption that the employee is entitled to back pay… “Once a plaintiff has established the amount of damages she claims resulted from her employer’s conduct, the burden of going forward shifts to the defendant to show that the plaintiff failed to mitigate damages or that damages were in fact less than the plaintiff asserts.”
That means, once an employee shows the amount of their lost wages, the employer can use “failure to mitigate” as a defense. A wrongfully terminated employee cannot sit around waiting for a big payout from their lawsuit. They have a duty to mitigate, which is described as “using reasonable diligence in finding other suitable employment.” To use this defense, the employer “must show that To establish the affirmative defense of a plaintiff’s failure to mitigate damages, the defendant[ ] must show that: (1) the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable diligence to mitigate her damages, and (2) there was a reasonable likelihood that the plaintiff might have found comparable work by exercising reasonable diligence.” In Gracia, the employer attempted to show a failure to mitigate by contending Gracia waited ten months before she applied for jobs, and that her applications were infrequent. However, the employer didn’t prove the second element, that there was a reasonable likelihood that Gracia would have found comparable work.
The court was left to compute the total damages. They started with “the difference between actual earnings for the period and those which she would have earned absent the discrimination by defendant.” Then “interim earnings” were subtracted from the back pay. Interim earnings are wages earned by the employee in the time period between when they were wrongfully terminated and the judgment is entered in their favor. Gracia had worked both as a translator, earning $50, and for a used furniture business, earning $700. Both of those amounts were subtracted from her back pay. The back pay was cut off when Gracia started a new job that paid more.
The court also awarded Gracia lost benefits. These included 401(k) contributions that the company made on her behalf, and the difference in health insurance cost between her new employer and former employer. Gracia also sought a tax-component award. This represents the difference in taxes she will have to pay because she is receiving the lump sum award in one year, versus what her tax liability would have been, had she been paid in each year she would have earned the income. At the end of the day, Gracia was awarded “equitable relief in the amount of: $52,548.37 in back pay, $1,351.08 in lost 401(k) contributions, $10,266.67 in prejudgment interest, and $10,312.02 as a tax-component award, for a total award of $74,478.14.” This was in addition to the $300,000.00 that the jury awarded her.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have been wrongfully fired or terminated;” or “I have been discriminated against or harassed based on my …” race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. The Spitz Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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