Cheyenne, WY asked in Civil Rights, Employment Discrimination and Sexual Harassment for Wyoming

Q: Is $1.8 Million too much to ask for during a settlement for sex and disability discrimination?

Any thoughts would be helpful

1 Lawyer Answer
Joseph Franklin Klatt
Joseph Franklin Klatt
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • La Jolla, CA

A: I do not practice in your state, but I can talk generally about the valuation of damages. For simplicity's sake, you should assume you have two types of damages. First, you have your actual damages. How you were demonstrably injured. This can be in lost wages and opportunities, it can be in medical or psychological treatment costs, it can be emotional or "pain and suffering" damages, if they are available under your cases of action. Second is punitive damages, which are damages to punish the Defendant and to deter future conduct. You may also have statutory damages. All of these you should discuss with your attorney.

Now punitive damages are inherently subjective. They are not based on what was done to you and what you suffered, it is based on what is necessary to send a message to the Defendant to never do this again. If it is a big company, that number can be big. If it is a small company, that number may be small. The Supreme Court has placed constitutional limits on punitive damages. There is no set formula, but generally you should assume that punitive damages cannot properly exceed 8 to 10 times the actual damages you prove, and very possibly less based on your Court's discretion.

With this background, you need to sum up your actual, provable damages. That is your most important number. You have potential punitive damages if the conduct was egregious, and you can factor that in. $1.8M may or may not be a reasonable amount. In a vacuum it sounds high, but these determinations are fact-bound: what did they do, how, when, how often, and how offensive was it? There is no easy answer to that question. if you are represented, and it sounds like you are, talk to your counsel. "Dance with the one that brought you."

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