The New Jersey Law against discrimination talks about the issue of damages in employment discrimination cases and people always ask me if I have an employment case if I’m harassed or I’m discriminated against what are my damages. And essentially the law says there are a couple of areas where you can recover as a discriminated against or harassed employee.
And the first component is your wage loss. If you were forced to resign from a job because you were sexually harassed and you can’t take it anymore or if you are fired for an illegal reason, such as your age, your race, your religion even your sexual orientation you are entitled for the lost wages arises out of that termination. So if it takes you a year to find a comparable job and you can document that you have $100,000.00 in wage loss your economic damages claims would essentially be that $100,000.00 that you lost because of the illegal conduct of the employer.
Now the law doesn’t stop there, there’s also a recovery for emotional distress damages. A lot of times in employment cases because we’re talking about such egregious conduct and because of just the nature of the employer and employee relationship, a lot of times victim of discrimination and harassment encounter psychiatric injury. They seek counseling or treatment and they can prove to a jury through witnesses that they have a condition, a psychiatric condition arising out of the discrimination or the harassment.
These matters are serious and the courts allow for that type of recovery. The other aspect of a discrimination claim is punitive damages. These damages are very real in discrimination cases and they are allowable when the conduct of the employer is intentional or overly reckless and the employer is going out of their way to discriminate against you or harass you. And a lot of times courts look to whether or not employers have effective anti-discrimination policies in their workplace when they are deciding the reasonableness of punitive damages.