Employee Damages and Remedies
Employment law provides a way for employees who are treated unfairly and illegally to have some of the injustice undone. Nobody can undo the wrong that you have suffered, but you can be awarded money damages and even reinstated to your job. Money damages include actual sums that you have lost because of your wrongful termination or denial of benefits. They also can include compensation for the emotional distress and pain and suffering that the wrongful actions have caused. Sometimes you will be entitled to punitive or liquidated damages to sanction the employer for its wrongful actions, to deter it from doing the same thing to other employees, and to remind all employers against deliberately depriving employee of their rights under employment law.
Back Pay - This is wages and benefits you have lost as a result of being fired. If you got another job with lesser pay, than your back pay is the difference between what you have earned since being fired and what you would have earned had you not been fired. Back pay could also include the value of health, and pension and profit sharing benefits that you have lost. Reimbursement for the costs of obtaining another job, such as moving for the new job or traveling to get new job may also be available. If you have not found another job and have not been diligent in looking for one, the employer may raise a defense that you should not be able to recover back pay because you have not mitigated or lessened the damages. Also, the back pay period can be cut off if your employer finds out after you were fired that you did something wrong which would have resulted in your being fired, even though it was not the reason for firing you.
Front Pay -The court has the authority to reinstate you to your former position. But that may be impractical for various reasons, including a level of hostility between the employer and the employee that the court deems not tolerable. Imagine, for example, reinstating a victim of sexual harassment who has suffered PTSD to a position at the offending employer. In such cases, the court can award front pay based on anticipated losses going forward for a period, sometimes years.
Emotional Distress - If you have suffered discrimination or retaliation, no doubt you have suffered emotional distress. Monetary compensation for emotional distress is not just adding and subtracting numbers as in the pay damage area. But the scales have to be balanced in this area too to make up for the damage that the employer has caused. In some case, the employee testifies about the psychological toll of the employer’s actions. Co-workers, friends, clergy and mental health professionals can convey some sense of the way an employee’s day to day life has been damaged. There is a range of consequences, including serious psychiatric disorders, interference with the ability to function or enjoy life and interaction with others, physical consequences such as headaches, and sleep and digestion disorders. These effects are difficult to quantify, but they nevertheless are all to real consequences for the employee.
Punitive Damages - What if the employer’s conduct is and malicious? Of if the employer acted with reckless indifference. Punitive damages are there to send a message to the employer that this conduct is not acceptable, and as a warning to not engage in that conduct again.
Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 so that we can review if your New York State or New York City employer has subjected you to violations of employment law, and what remedies or damages are warranted to undue the injustice.