Each and every one of us is unique. That’s a simple and undeniable truth. No two people anywhere in the world are exactly alike. Though this is true, and though we are all unique in our own ways, we all also share many things in common – among them, the need to feel accepted, valued, and appreciated for who we are and what we contribute to the world. Certainly, we want to feel this way in all aspects of our lives. Without question, for many of us, that includes the place where we are employed and where we spend a large majority of our time each day. No one wants to feel as if they are being discriminated against or devalued at work simply because of who they are. Unfortunately, this does happen – it happens at workplaces every day, across the country.
In some unfortunate cases, workplace discrimination is severe and prolonged enough to cause the employee to choose to file a lawsuit to seek justice for the harm that has been done. Without question, seeking the justice that is deserved is an important and worthy pursuit.
Often, when our clients are contemplating filing an employment discrimination lawsuit, they have many questions – and this is understandable. One of the most common questions we are asked is, “How much is my lawsuit worth?” Certainly, this is an entirely reasonable question and one that deserves a thorough answer. After all, entering into a lawsuit can often be a stressful process, even in the most ideal of circumstances. Often, potential plaintiffs want to know if entering into a stressful situation of this nature, with all of the time and expense that it might involve, is worth it.
The Scoop on Settlement
While wanting to know the “average” amount that a discrimination lawsuit might settle for is certainly a reasonable question, it is also one that may be somewhat difficult to answer with any amount of absolute certainty with respect to any one particular case. After all, just as each plaintiff is unique, each set of circumstances that leads a potential plaintiff to consider filing a lawsuit is unique as well. The goal of any lawsuit is, of course, to try to make the victim of the discrimination “whole” – at least to the extent that it is possible to do so.
Nevertheless, there are certain factors that your attorney may consider in helping you to place an estimated value on your case. Some of these factors include:
- The Type of Case: Generally, “employment discrimination” is a broad category. Depending upon the type of discrimination involved, however, different types of damages may or may not be available. For example, if an employee files a discrimination case under the Americans with Disabilities Act, he or she might be able to recover punitive damages (damages which are essentially awarded to “punish” an employer for committing an act of discrimination). However, a discrimination case filed for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act might not allow for that possibility and may only provide for the possibility of compensatory damages (damages intended to compensate victims for expenses incurred as a result of the discrimination – such as lost wages, costs associated with the search for another job, medical expenses, and the like).
- The Employer: Certainly, the identity of the employer itself will also make a difference in the amount likely to be recovered in a particular case. Some employers, for example, tend to be more litigation-oriented and less inclined to settle a case, while others are more inclined to make settlement offers fairly quickly. Additionally, the larger an employer is in terms of size, the greater the chances are that a larger settlement is likely. On the other side of the coin, if the employer is very small or not very financially profitable, the chances of a significant settlement are much lower.
- Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction or particular state and court in which a case is filed may also make a significant difference in the amount of any potential award or settlement. This is because different states have different laws – some of which are more friendly to employees than others. You may live in a state that is very employer-friendly and does not provide grounds for many wrongful discharge claims, while other states lean more toward employee-friendly laws, which would allow for the possibility of greater recoveries and settlement amounts.
Keeping these different factors in mind, it is often difficult to determine a true “average” amount of settlement for a discrimination lawsuit or any specific amount that is “typically” received in a settlement. In saying this, however, it should be noted that there are certain statutory limits for employment discrimination lawsuits filed at the federal level, which vary based upon the size of the employer involved. At the federal level, the court can award up to:
- $50,000 to an employee if the employer has between 15 and 100 employees;
- $100,000 if the employer has 101 to 200 employees;
- $200,000 if the employer has 201 to 500 employees; and
- $300,000 if the employer has more than 500 employees.
While these are statutory guidelines that courts will follow in issuing awards, and while they may serve as benchmarks or guidelines in settlement negotiations, ultimately, settlement negotiations are between the employee, the employer, and their respective attorneys. Consulting with your attorney regarding the details of your particular situation and the value your claim may have is therefore always an important step to take prior to filing any lawsuit.
COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the lives of many people. And while all of us are at risk of catching the disease, the mortality rate among the elderly and those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions are particularly high. According to the Center for Disease Control’s latest numbers, 92.7% of the deaths in the United States, attributed to COVID-19, are victims who were 55 years old and above. In addition, the CDC considers employees who have the following conditions to be at a higher risk of mortality should they contract the disease:
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Chronic Lung Disease
- Hemoglobin Disorders
- Liver Disease
- Serious Heart Conditions
- Serious Obesity
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees with disabilities from being unfairly terminated. If you have a disability that puts you at greater risk of death from contracting the COVID-19 disease, then you have the right to not endanger yourself by returning to an unsafe working environment.
If you have been discriminated against or terminated because of your disability or inability to return to work; if you have been denied accommodations because you are in a high-risk category; or if you have been retaliated against because you have requested special accommodations or spoken on social media about needing a safer working environment, contact us immediately!
Call Smithey Law Group LLC Today
If you believe that you may have valid grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit, or if you have any other labor or employment matters for which you believe you need legal representation, we would encourage you to give Smithey Law Group LLC, a call today. Cumulatively, our attorneys have nearly fifty years of experience practicing in employment and labor law, and we are well versed and knowledgeable in all of the complex legal matters that our clients may encounter. We are proud of our track record of successfully representing countless clients in their employment and labor matters, and would be honored to have the opportunity to serve you, too. Give us a call today – we look forward to speaking with you soon.