Types of Compensation Available for Employment Rights Violations

Wrongful workplace practices in the State of Washington can include:

  • Other matters

Wrongful workplace practices may be a violation under federal law, state law, or both federal and state law.  The types of compensation and corrective action available may be based on statute, case law, or a negotiated settlement between an employee and an employer.

The following provides an overview of the types of compensation that may be available.  Not all types of compensation is available in all cases; to find out what compensation and corrective action may be available for your case, please contact me.

Negotiated Settlement With Your Employer

If you have been the subject of a wrongful workplace action, such as illegal harassment, discrimination, or termination, you have the right to seek fair compensation in the form of damages or other corrective action directly against your employer, particularly before an action is filed with the EEOC (if such a filing is required).

A negotiated settlement can include matters such as:

  • A payment to compensate for the damages that have been incurred, including lost pay, humiliation, and emotional damages
  • Job reinstatement
  • Transition assistance in seeking a new job

Compensation for Lost Pay and Benefits, Humiliation, Emotional Distress, and Similar Matters

If you’ve suffered from harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, or certain other workforce violations, you may be entitled to compensation related to lost wages, the emotional impact of the wrongful act, and, potentially, corrective action (such as being reinstated in a job or being given a promotion).

Compensation Associated with Lost Wages

Wage compensation can include:

  • The wages lost, if you were wrongfully terminated, which can also include bonuses and other compensation likely to have been earned
  • The difference between the amount of compensation that you earned and the amount you should have earned if you had not been discriminated against, e.g., in a promotion matter, the compensation you would have earned had you been promoted instead of discriminated against, or in a wrongful termination matter, your lost wages minus any interim earnings
  • Other monetary compensation that can be tied directly to your damages
  • Amounts wrongfully withheld from your wages
  • Fines, penalties, and attorneys’ fees (in some cases)
  • Punitive damages (in some cases – see below)

During the litigation process and at trial I will present a claim for all monetary damages that you suffered as the result of the wrongful practice.

Emotional Compensation

Emotional damages can consist of humiliation, emotional distress, and, in some cases, therapeutic care arising from a wrongful employment practice. In general, these types of damages are available for certain matters such as harassment and discrimination, but not for other employment matters, such as a wrongful withholding of wages.

When applicable, the amount of these damages is determined by a jury based upon the facts and circumstances of the case.  Typically, the more egregious and outrageous the conduct, the more likely that damages will be higher.

If we are seeking compensation for medical or therapeutic care, or claiming a disability or diagnosed condition, disclosure of medical records may be required.  This is an important choice you should make early in the case.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are often available in harassment, discrimination, and certain other types of cases when federal law has been violated.  Punitive damages can be substantial, as their sole purpose is to punish the wrongdoers in a meaningful way.  As a result, juries will often award larger punitive damages against bigger corporations than against smaller corporations.

In general, punitive damages will usually only be awarded when the defendant’s conduct was outrageous.  While no set standard exists in terms of exactly what conduct is considered outrageous, often in employment harassment and discrimination cases “outrageous” wrongful conduct can be found in instances in which the conduct was severe, pervasive, and ongoing, and in which management knew about such conduct and either permitted it to continue or did not take any action to stop the conduct.

Other than in race discrimination cases, you likely must pursue a charge of discrimination with EEOC (the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to seek punitive damages.  The time frame to go to the EEOC is relatively short, so do not delay getting legal advice.