I read an article the other day about a man who won an $8,000 settlement from Disney after he got stuck on the “It’s a Small World” ride. He said he will use the money to cut out the part of his brain that won’t stop playing “It’s a Small World After All.”
Ha. Actually, that was once part of Conan O’Brien’s opening monologue.
However, this illustrates an interesting part of employment litigation: damages. If you have suffered an illegal adverse employment action – such as being fired, demoted, or passed over for promotion – there are several types of damages that you might be entitled to collect.
Legally, an award of compensatory damages is designed to put you in the position that you would have been in, but for the adverse employment action.
Damages may consist of “back pay”, which is lost wages and benefits calculated from the time of the firing or demotion to the time that action is redressed.
Damages may also consist of “front pay”, which is designed to compensate a plaintiff for the situation where he or she is terminated, and then cannot find comparable employment after reasonable efforts. Note that a departing employee will typically have a duty to mitigate; i.e., you must make reasonable efforts to find comparable employment.
Another category of damages is those for “emotional distress”. If you intend to claim damages for emotional distress, then you must have evidence that the injury is real and legitimate. Such evidence may be shown via testimony from you or your family, or medical records.
Finally, there are punitive damages. As the name suggests, punitive damages are meant to punish an employer who has intentionally discriminated against an employee. These damages are rarely awarded and are subject to reasonable constraints, but can be powerful leverage for a discharged employee.
For assistance with employment matters, or any other legal needs related to your business or estate planning, contact Fournier Legal Services for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.670.3535.
Joe received his law degree from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill School of Law and his Accounting degree from the University of Rhode Island. He is admitted to practice law in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and he is a CPA. He is an Adjunct Professor and lecturer at the University level and has been a frequent speaker on business planning and legal matters.