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Three Categories of Damages in Employment Law Cases

To understand your rights in an employment law case in Kentucky, you first need to understand the damages that are available. The majority of employment law cases are brought under Kentucky Civil Rights Act, which mirrors the Civil Rights Act of 1974. Our state Act is called KRS (Kentucky Revised Statute) 344, which allows for the recovery of three general categories of damages.

1. Lost Wages

GavelThere are two subcategories under lost wages. The first is back pay. Back pay is the lost wages from the date the plaintiff was fired to the trial date. The second type of lost wages is front pay. Front pay is the amount from the trial date going forward to a designated amount of time. This time period could be one, two, or even five years, which is at the discretion of the trial judge to award. This amount is calculated by hourly rate plus benefits multiplied by the time period specified.

2. Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is defined as pain and suffering, humiliation or embarrassment. Oftentimes, emotional distress is the result of a wrongful discharge. The plaintiff may suffer from a loss of sleep, anxiety attacks, or weight loss/gain. Sometimes, the plaintiff will have medical evidence such as prescriptions or counseling. The law does not require medical evidence of their emotional distress to recover their lost wages.

3. Attorney Fees

The final category of damages is prevailing party attorney fees. When a plaintiff sues his or her employer under the statute, goes to trial, and wins, the company not only has to pay the damages the jury awards to the plaintiff, but also the plaintiff’s attorney fees. The attorney fee is mandatory but the amount is discretionary. Essentially a plaintiff could be awarded only one dollar but rack up $150 thousand in attorney fees. The defendant would be required to pay that amount, although the court could make a downward adjustment due to the little amount the attorney gained for their client. If you would like more information on damages for employment law cases, or you have questions about wrongful termination or sexual harassment, you can contact the Cassis Law Office at (502) 736-8100.   Photo credit: Bloomsberries (Flickr, Creative Commons)