If you bring a lawsuit based in employment discrimination, and are successful in holding your employer liable, there are a variety of legal remedies available depending on your specific situation. Many are not well known to the average person, or are thought to be out of reach. If you are in the midst of a suit or are contemplating filing one, it is good to know both your responsibilities and your potential reward.
As in most other civil lawsuits, compensatory damages may be awarded. As opposed to punitive damages, compensatory damages simply seek to redress what one has lost. In South Carolina, some of the most commonly seen types include:
- Back pay, either from the date of termination or the day the inappropriate treatment began, depending on the circumstances. South Carolina law allows your award to be offset by new earnings if you found a new job between the date of the discrimination and the date of the award.
- Losses out of pocket. This may include medical treatment costs not covered by insurance, necessary modifications to your home to adapt to an injury, or costs you may have incurred while searching for a new job (if necessary).
- Pain and suffering. While it is difficult to settle on a specific number for such an intangible harm, South Carolina and federal employment law do permit recovery for emotional harm in discriminatory situations.
- Attorney’s fees and court costs. This is becoming more common, but is especially likely if the court holds that the employer’s actions were egregious.
It is pivotal to remember that in terms of monetary awards, federal law places caps on the maximum amount a plaintiff can receive – the rationale is that depending on the size of the company, one award could cause bankruptcy. This result would be inequitable to all the employees of the company who played no role in discrimination against the plaintiff.
Sometimes, the more appropriate remedy for a wrongful termination or a pattern of discrimination is not monetary, but rather an action or a deed. For example, in some instances, it may be an appropriate remedy to nominate the plaintiff to a job they had been denied, if they are qualified to hold it. This is extremely common in professional fields such as law or medicine; workers denied promotions because of their race, gender, or other immutable characteristics will often be given the promotion after the fact as a trial period of sorts.
Another common non-monetary award in discrimination cases is injunctive relief. Injunctive relief in South Carolina is defined as a court order demanding cessation of a specific act or pattern of acts. In the context of employment discrimination, this can mean ceasing a discriminatory practice, or actively embracing inclusionary actions in all areas of the business – hiring, promoting, and the like.
Contact An Employment Lawyer
Regardless of where you might be in a discrimination suit, it is always good to speak to an attorney if you have not yet done so. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and his Charleston firm of Hitchcock & Potts have been in the practice of employment law for years, and we are happy to answer your questions and help you get through what can be a confusing process. Contact our office today at 843-577-5000 or use our web form to book an appointment today.