Category: Discrimination

In California, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants and employees on the basis of gender, race, age, disability, and other protected classifications. If you have been the victim of workplace discrimination you have the right to file a lawsuit against your discriminatory employer for damages. As experienced California workplace discrimination attorneys, one of the questions we are most frequently asked concerns damages. Specifically, what can you achieve and recover by filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit?

There are four primary types of damages you can seek to recover in your lawsuit: monetary, non-economic, punitive, and equitable. The specific type and amount of damages you receive will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. However, it is important to know which damages may be on the negotiating table.

Monetary Damages

One of the primary reasons a victim of discrimination may decide to file a lawsuit is to recover monetary damages. Monetary damages can be awarded if you have suffered financially because of your employer’s discriminatory behavior. For example, you may want to request an award of monetary damages if you were passed over for a raise, declined a well-deserved promotion, or terminated from your job for an unsavory reason.

When you ask for monetary damages you will have to show that you took a financial hit because of your employer’s actions. However, it is important to know that you can request damages to compensate for past losses, present losses, and even future losses.

In the past, our San Jose workplace discrimination attorneys have successfully helped clients recover monetary damages to compensate for:

  • Unpaid or underpaid benefits
  • Higher income that should have been awarded because of a promotion or raise
  • Unpaid or underpaid pension benefits
  • Back pay
  • Bonus pay.

If you have suffered economically because of your employer’s discriminatory actions, you can demand to be made whole. When your case is successful you can also demand to have your employer cover your attorney fees and court courts.

Non-Economic Damages

Sometimes the consequences of your employer’s discriminatory behavior will also cause you to suffer consequences that do not have a direct financial cost. These consequences are very real, but also very difficult to value in terms of dollars and cents. Non-economic damages can be awarded to help compensate for these intimate, subjective, and painful discrimination-related injuries.

Our attorneys will fight to help you recover non-economic damages to compensate for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Emotional distress, and
  • Embarrassment.

These injuries are very personal and their values will vary significantly from case-to-case. This is why an award of damages can be so different from one case to another.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages will not be available in all California workplace discrimination lawsuits. In fact, punitive damages will only be on the table if your employer is a private company. These damages can not be recovered if you were an employee of a government agency or the state.

California law specifies that punitive damages must be reserved for cases where behavior is so egregious and terrible that a financial penalty is appropriate. The law states that an employer can be responsible for paying an award of punitive damages if they

  1. Are an officer, director, or managing agent of a company, and
  2. Personally engaged in oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious conduct, or
  3. Authorized or ratified such conduct.

Are there limits on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a workplace discrimination lawsuit? Maybe. While there is no specific clause addressing a cap on punitive damages, courts have consistently held that these awards cannot be “grossly excessive.” Punitive damages, when awarded, are often subject to the approval and adjustment of a court.

Equitable Remedies

Equitable remedies are unique because they do not focus on your financial recovery. Not directly, at least. Instead, equitable remedies are used to require your employer to behave in a certain way. Equitable damages are most frequently used in breach of contract situations. Instead of ordering the defendant to pay a fine, a court will simply require that person to adhere to the terms of the agreement and hold up their side of the bargain.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you are wrongfully terminated from your job because you got pregnant. You absolutely loved your job and were well-paid. In addition to seeking lost wages (with interest) and non-economic damages for your pain and suffering, you also want to get your job back. You can ask the court to order your employer to rehire you to the position.

These equitable damages can be awarded instead of or in addition to the financial award you recover.

San Jose Workplace Discrimination Employees

Have you been the victim of sexual harassment or another form of workplace discrimination? Have you suffered financially and/or emotionally, as a result? Contact the Briski Law Firm for help. Our San Jose workplace discrimination attorneys will help you hold your employer responsible for his or her illegal actions. Call us today to learn more and schedule your free consultation with our skilled legal team.