Average Settlement Amounts for a Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

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Average Settlement Amounts for a Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Employers have a lot of discretion regarding handling their employees and who to keep in or welcome to their workforce. But an employer’s choices cannot be discriminatory. Employment discrimination on the basis of factors such as race, sex, religion, ancestry, disability, age, or gender is illegal under federal law and Maryland law. Unfortunately, racial discrimination and other types of discrimination are still prevalent. 

If your employer does not respect state and federal laws against racial discrimination, it should be held accountable through a settlement or other legal relief. While contemplating legal action, you might want to know the average settlement for racial discrimination. Because each case is different, there is no average settlement for a racial discrimination lawsuit. However, our experienced employment law attorneys at Smithey Law Group LLC can review your case, give you an accurate estimate of what your case is worth, and help you recover the maximum settlement amount available

What Is Racial Discrimination? 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws against employment discrimination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2021, the EEOC received 61,331 complaints (or charges) of employment discrimination, and 34.1% of those complaints were regarding racial discrimination. There are several unlawful ways an employer can display its racial animus against an employee, and we can review them below.

Different Types of Racial Bias 

You could have a racial discrimination claim if your employer mistreats you or treats you differently because of one of the following characteristics (or perceived characteristics)

  • Racial background,
  • Skin color, 
  • Physical features associated with race, 
  • Hair texture, or 
  • Association with an individual of a particular racial background (real or perceived). 

An employer might reveal bias through comments and physical gestures. Or you might recognize bias because similarly situated coworkers with different racial backgrounds, physical features, or associations receive better treatment than you. 

Different Types of Illegal, Discriminatory Treatment in the Workplace

Employees and job applicants have a right to workplace experiences free from discrimination. Employers that engage in one of the following activities based on an employee’s or applicant’s race commit unlawful workplace discrimination:

  • Refusal to hire,
  • Harassment, 
  • Refusal to promote, 
  • Unequal payment, 
  • Exclusion from work opportunities or events (e.g., training and networking functions),
  • Termination, 
  • Refusal to provide benefits, 
  • Disciplinary action, and
  • Unwanted transfers or assignments. 

An employer might also be liable for discrimination if the enforcement of a workplace policy that is “neutral” on its face has a disparate impact on individuals from a particular racial background. 

Knowing when to point the finger at a discriminatory employer can be challenging and unnerving, but our knowledgeable attorneys at Smithey Law Group can help you identify illegal behavior and address it. Speak to us as soon as you recognize discriminatory conduct so we can protect your rights and win justice on your behalf. 

What Can I Receive in a Settlement for a Racial Discrimination Lawsuit? 

If you are a victim of racial discrimination in the workplace, you can file a complaint with the EEOC, a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR), or a lawsuit in civil court. You can also choose to settle your dispute with your employer. The amount upon which you settle should be comparable to the compensation you could have expected to receive in a complaint or court award. So, instead of looking at the average settlement for racial discrimination, you should look at what types of compensation you can receive in a discrimination case to better determine what your case is worth.  

In a successful complaint or settlement, you have access to the following types of remedies

  • Back pay to compensate you for wages lost due to an employer’s discriminatory actions; 
  • Front pay to place you in the same financial position you would have been in had your employer not engaged in discrimination; 
  • Orders requiring your employer to change its practices; 
  • Compensation for related, out-of-pocket expenses;
  • Job or benefit reinstatement; 
  • Payment for emotional anguish; 
  • Punitive damages to punish an offending employer for especially egregious behavior; and
  • Reimbursement of legal costs.

A skilled attorney can maximize your recovery in each category of remedies mentioned above. 

Limits on Racial Discrimination Cases and Settlements

You should be aware of two ways racial discrimination cases are limited. First, you cannot file an EEOC or MCCR racial discrimination complaint unless your employer has 15 or more employees. However, your employer does not need more than one employee if you are filing a harassment case with the MCCR. Second, the amount of compensation you can receive in an EEOC complaint is subject to the following caps on compensatory and punitive damages

  • If your employer has between 15 and 100 employees, you cannot recover more than $50,000;
  • If your employer has between 101 and 200 employees, you cannot recover more than $100,000;
  • If your employer has between 201 and 500 employees, you cannot recover more than $200,000; and 
  • If your employer has more than 500 employees, you cannot recover more than $300,000. 

How you calculate the size of an employer’s workforce is not always straightforward, so it is important to consult an experienced attorney to help ensure you do not miss out on any of the compensation you deserve. 

Speak to an Experienced Employment Attorney Today

Confronting an employer—especially an employer that has broken the law—is not easy and should be done with the guidance of a professional. At Smithey Law Group, our advocacy and experience in employment law are unparalleled. We are award-winning attorneys, we are sought-after educators in the Maryland legal community, and we get results for our clients.  

Smithey Law Group knows employment law, and we know it well. In fact, our practice focuses exclusively on resolving workplace disputes. We hope you will contact us if you need a good advocate to hold your employer accountable. You can call us at 410-881-8190 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation. 

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Joyce Smithey, a seasoned employment and labor law attorney, has over 22 years of experience representing both employers and employees in Maryland and D.C. Her practice, rooted in a deep understanding of employment law, spans administrative hearings to federal litigation. Joyce's approach is comprehensive, focusing on protecting client interests while ensuring legal compliance. A Harvard graduate, her career began in Fortune 500 companies, transitioning to law after a degree from Boston University School of Law. Joyce's expertise is recognized by numerous awards, including Maryland’s Top 100 Women. At Smithey Law Group LLC, which she founded in 2018, Joyce continues to champion employment rights, drawing on her rich background in law and business.

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