SW Legal studies in Business

Front Pay Damages Are Not Subject to Damage Caps
Description Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision by ruling that front pay damages in employment discrimination cases-the award for compensation lost between judgment and reinstatement in employment or in lieu of reinstatement-are not capped, but are subject to the discretion of the court under the circumstances.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Damages; Damage Caps; Front Pay
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Pollard sued her former employer, contending that she had been subjected to a hostile work environment based on her sex. The trial court found that she was subjected to sexual harassment by co-workers, and that her supervisors were aware of the harassment. It resulted in her taking a medical leave of absence for psychological treatment. She was fired for refusing to return to the same hostile work environment. The court awarded her $300,000 in compensatory damages, the maximum permitted under the 1991 amendments to the 1964 Civil Rights Act in most discrimination cases. The court noted that the award was insufficient, but that front pay-money awarded for lost compensation during the period between judgment and reinstatement to employment of in lieu of reinstatement-was subject to the damage cap. The appeals court affirmed the award. Pollard appealed.
Decision Reversed. Front pay is not a part of the damages cap within the meaning of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, so damages in this case were not subject to the $300,000 cap. Front pay awards made in lieu of reinstatement to employment are not subject to statutory caps as the courts were instructed to "order such affirmative action as may be appropriate" in such instances.
Citation Pollard v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 121 S.Ct. 1946 (Sup. Ct., 2001)

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