Several of our recent articles involve the elements and difficulties involved in proving a retaliation claim under the Fair Employment & Housing Act (“FEHA”) and more specifically California Government Code §12940[h]. For more information about other essential components of a retaliation claim, please visit the article section of our website. The remainder of this article will provide a brief overview of the potential remedies available should you elect to pursue a FEHA retaliation claim.
One component of your claim involves economic damages. Economic damages include all of the wages and other benefits, such as health and dental insurance, which you were earning before losing a job as a result of retaliation. In addition to past wages, you may potentially recover future lost income based upon the difficulties that will be encountered in terms of gaining comparable employment in your region. It is important to retain an experienced employment law attorney, as retaliation claims are difficult enough even with knowledgeable counsel particularly on such issues as future lost income. Although you are not required to obtain a new job, you will not be rewarded for what is considered to be your failure to mitigate damages. Your damages will be reduced to the extent that you did not make reasonable efforts to obtain a new position.
EMOTIONAL DISTRESS DAMAGES
In addition to the economic benefits lost as a result of the retaliation, an employee may additionally recover the pain and suffering caused by the employer’s conduct. Employee’s victimized by retaliation frequently experience considerable stress as a result of the loss of a job. In addition to feeling betrayed by your employer, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, financial worries, depression and loneliness are often experienced by employees that have encountered retaliation. Without some documentation from a licensed physician or therapist or corroborating witness testimony in support of the emotional distress damages, it will be difficult for the court to place a monetary figure on that component of your retaliation claim. An attorney that regularly handles retaliation claims will greatly improve your chances of recovering emotional distress damages resulting from your termination.
Although the standard for recovering punitive damages is difficult, punitive damages may be awarded provided that an employee proves by a “clear and convincing” standard that the employer’s conduct was fraudulent, malicious or oppressive. (California Civil Code §3294) Stay tuned for a follow-up article wherein we will discuss the types of employer conduct that rises to the level of malicious or oppressive conduct. Punitive damages are designed to punish and deter the employer from engaging in such reprehensible conduct towards other victims in the future.
An employee who prevails on a FEHA retaliation claim is entitled to recover the attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in pursuing the action. If the employer prevails, attorneys’ fees will be awarded in extremely limited circumstances wherein the employee essentially had little or no evidence in support of the claim.
GET HELP NOW
If you have been a victim of retaliation or discrimination, contact the Perrin Law Group today for a free consultation and get the help you and your family deserve.