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Can I Sue An Employer For Discrimination?

The path to a resolution of an employment discrimination complaint is a long one, but eventually many do get decided in favor of the complainant. If your complaint or suit is decided in your favor, you need to be aware of what your requested remedy or remedies might be—in other words, what you want out of a successful case. Can you sue an employer for discrimination? The answer is yes, but there are several different types of remedies for employment discrimination. Not all are applicable in every situation.

Making The Employee “Whole”

The general rule of both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) is that an appropriate remedy for discrimination is to provide whatever would make the victim whole—that is, to put them in the position they would have been in but not for the discrimination. Depending on the case and the person, this will be different for everyone. Back pay and/or lost wages will be a common part of many awards in discrimination cases, but they are not always available. For example, intentional discrimination on the basis of gender is classified differently under the Equal Pay Act. Back pay is not available here, but “liquidated damages” and overtime compensation generally are.

If you were up for a promotion or title that you were denied due to discriminatory conduct, sometimes the court will remedy that by awarding you the promotion. Or, they may at least offer a chance to interview again, as any judgment against the employer requires them to cease the discriminatory practice on pain of penalty. If an employer continues the discriminatory practice, other fines or punitive actions will be levied against them.

Compensatory and Punitive Damages

The other major remedy for discrimination is compensatory damages, though usually, these are only available in cases of intentional discrimination. There are, however, limits to how much one can receive in this manner, depending on the size of the company and number of people officially employed in “each of 20 or more calendar weeks” in the current or previous year. The limits are:

  • $50,000 for employers with 15-100 employees;
  • $100,000 for employers with 101-200 employees;
  • $200,000 for employers with 201-500 employees; and
  • $300,000 for employers with 501 or more employees.

Punitive damages are available in some cases as well. That is, damages granted to you as punishment to the employer, for an especially reckless or malicious act of discrimination. However, the standard to meet in order to receive punitive damages is rather high, which means it is rare that a case will actually be deemed to merit this kind of award.

Contact An Experienced Attorney

Employment discrimination is never something that you should have to deal with alone. If you do wind up receiving a verdict in your favor, you may need advice on what remedy may make you the most whole. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has years of experience in such cases and is happy to try and make his knowledge work for you. Contact the offices of Hitchcock & Potts today at 843-577-5000 to schedule an initial appointment.

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