What are the damages and employee can recover or settlement can an employee get if you sue your employer in Ohio for an employment law violation?
The answer to this question will depend on the type of legal claim you bring. For example, discrimination lawsuits have different damages available if it involves a hostile work environment or a wrongful termination. Also, discrimination under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has different damages than discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
There are many federal and Ohio labor laws that your employer could violate that would result in compensation for you for an employment law violation. Our Columbus, Ohio Employment Attorneys explain the different types of legal remedies, or “damages,” available for many of the most common legal claims that an employee can bring against their employer in Ohio. It is important to note that these damages are available in lawsuits and may be awarded by a judge or a jury. On the other hand, settlements are contracts and may contain different damages or agreements that are not contained in this article.
To view a summary chart of available damages for the most common lawsuits against your employer in Ohio, click here. The chart provides the widest range of damages in these specific employment law areas but each case is unique and not all damages will be available. The employment attorneys at Mansell Law will provide each client with the specific damages available in that client’s circumstances. This is only meant to be a helpful guide and not legal advice or a guarantee.
Compensatory Damages: Compensatory damages represent money awarded to compensate you for any loss or injury as a result of your claim giving rise to the lawsuit. Compensatory damages take several forms, including:
Back pay: Back pay represents payment for wages wrongfully withheld and/or for services that you could have performed had you not been terminated (also referred to as lost wages). This is typically the amount owed between the date of termination and date of final judgment in your lawsuit.
Benefits: If you received benefits in your position (such as insurance), the benefits you were entitled to while you were an employee can be back-dated to cover you after your termination.
Front pay: Front pay represents payment for lost future earnings. This is the amount owed between the final judgment in your lawsuit and the time you are reinstated or, if reinstatement isn’t feasible, a lump sum awarded instead of reinstatement.
Emotional Distress: emotional distress damages is a monetary award that is designed to compensate for emotional harm that has been suffered. It is not limited to situation where you needed to see a therapist or mental health professional. An individual can testify as to the effect the wrongful termination or events had on them and what emotional distress they went through or continue to go through. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) do not provide for emotional distress damages. In addition, claims for unpaid wages under Ohio overtime laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) do not allow for recovery of emotional distress. Also, Ohio labor laws and federal laws have caps on the amount that can be recovered. Ohio law caps emotional distress damages at the greater of (a) $250,000 or (b) three times your economic damages (back pay, front pay, benefits), which is subject to a maximum of $350,000. Federal law cap the damages based on the employer’s number of employees. The EEOC provides that information: Federal Damage Limits.
Liquidated Damages: Liquidated damages represent an amount equal to the unpaid wages you are awarded. Liquidated damages are sometimes referred to as “double damages” because they match the amount of unpaid wages you are owed, meaning you are awarded your unpaid wages, plus an additional award that matches your total unpaid wages.
Treble Damages: Similar to liquidated damages, treble damages represent the amount equal to twice the unpaid wages you are awarded. Treble damages are sometimes referred to as “triple damages” since you are awarded your unpaid wages, plus an additional two times your unpaid wages if your legal claim allows for treble damages.
Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are an amount awarded to punish your employer for intentionally violating the law and deter them from doing so in the future. Whether punitive damages are available in a specific case is up to the judge and can be a very high standard to meet. Similar to emotion distress damages, the Ohio Labor Laws and federal laws cap the amount an individual can recover in punitive damages. Ohio law caps punitive damages at two times the compensatory damages awarded, up to a maximum of $350,000. Federal law caps punitive damages based on number of employees (See emotional distress damages above).
Attorneys’ Fees and Costs: If you retain an attorney and file a lawsuit, then your attorney will bill you for their time spent working on your case. Your attorney will also bill you for costs and expenses advanced on your behalf, such as lawsuit filing fees or witness fees. If your claim allows for payment of attorneys’ fees and costs, then if you prevail on a lawsuit, your employer must pay the attorneys’ fees and costs you owe to your attorney. The award of attorneys fees and costs are especially important in unpaid overtime and other unpaid wage cases where the amount of money at stake may not be substantial.
Prejudgment and Postjudgment Interest: Prejudgment interest is awarded to compensate you for the delay and loss of use of the money you were previously entitled to, but ultimately had to wait until final judgment in your lawsuit to receive. Postjudgment interest is awarded to compensate you for the delay in time between final judgment in your lawsuit and the date your employer actually makes the payment to you.
Declaratory Judgment: A declaratory judgment is a ruling from the court that defines the legal rights between the parties. Declaratory judgments are often sought by employees against their employer for the court to declare that a certain practice or policy of the employer is unlawful.
Injunction: An injunction is a ruling from the court that orders a person or entity to do or refrain from doing something. In the employment context, employees seek injunctions against their employers to prevent them from continuing to engage in unlawful practices or policies.
Reinstatement: Reinstatement is the right to be placed back in the original position you held with your employer before you were terminated.
The above table provides a general overview of the legal remedies available in Ohio employment law claims. However, the precise legal remedies available to you will differ based upon the specific legal claims you bring. To learn more about the specific Ohio Labor Laws available to you, or if you’re not sure which category your legal issue falls under, check out our employment practice areas page or set up a free consultation.
Wrongful Termination Settlement Ohio