How Much Compensation Do You Get for Discrimination?
How much compensation you get for pregnancy discrimination in New York City depends on the nature of the harm you suffered, your financial and emotional losses, and the discriminatory actions taken by the employer. Compensation can vary dramatically by case. The amount depends not only on the facts of your specific situation but also on the laws under which you sue and the attorneys you hire. When an employer discriminates egregiously, you may be able to obtain punitive damages, but these cases are rare. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyers can look at your specific situation and determine whether there are grounds to sue. Our extensive experience, both settling cases and taking them to trial, allows us to understand how much your case may to be worth and how a jury would likely respond to your story when awarding damages. To recover compensation, we’ll need to establish that it’s more likely than not your employer acted adversely against you concerning employment based on your pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
We may be able to establish liability for purposes of recovering compensation if we can show, for example:
- Your New York City employer fired you because of your pregnancy.
- Your employer demoted you because of childbirth.
- Your employer paid you differently than other employees doing the same work because your employer gave you a reasonable accommodation for your gestational diabetes.
- Coworkers harassed you because of a pregnancy-related condition or for receiving a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy.
The compensation you may be able to get for discrimination includes:
- Back pay and benefits denied due to pregnancy discrimination
- Front pay
- Emotional distress
- Medical costs
- Costs incurred in finding a new job
- Punitive damages
- Attorneys’ fees.
Generally, the amount of back pay depends on what you were making and how much work you lost due to the discrimination. Back pay could be considerable because you may have found it difficult to find another job while pregnant during a pandemic. You may be able to recover front pay, which is the amount of compensation to which you would have been entitled in the future, had you not faced discrimination. You may be able to be reinstated in your job rather than be paid front pay, but often, once litigation commences, relations between an employer and employee break down too much to be restored in this way.
Sometimes a pregnant worker suffers significant stress as the result of harassment or job loss. You may be able to recover damages intended to compensate you for the emotional distress you feel. The jury will try to quantify those intangible losses. When you need additional medical care due to discrimination, you may be able to recover compensation for the medical bills.
Unlike some other firms, our firm handles pregnancy discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. We will not get paid unless we recover compensation on your behalf through a settlement or trial verdict. To recover compensation, we’ll need to have either direct evidence or sufficient circumstantial evidence for the jury to infer discrimination. Recent amendments have made it possible to obtain punitive damages for an employer’s egregious misconduct. We will also need to gather evidence about how much your employer harmed you. Evidence can take the form of the tangible pay you lost, your testimony about your emotional distress, and testimony by medical providers. We may need to retain experts to offer opinions about future or intangible harms you may suffer due to pregnancy discrimination.Compensation Under State or Local Law in New York
The New York State Human Rights Law protects you against pregnancy discrimination no matter the size of your workplace. Under the state law, we may be able to obtain compensation for discrimination on your behalf even if you are not an employee but instead an independent contractor. Damages are not capped.
Under state law, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy-related condition, so long as doing so wouldn’t present an undue hardship. A pregnancy-related condition is a medical condition associated with pregnancy or childbirth that inhibits the use of a normal bodily function or can be shown by medically accepted lab or clinical diagnostic techniques. Your condition must not stop you from reasonably performing your job duties or those of your sought-after job once a company accommodates you.
Similarly, damages are not capped under the New York City Human Rights Law. The city law prohibits pregnancy discrimination if your employer has at least four employees. Under this law, you’re entitled to a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition when:
- The accommodation would allow you to perform essential job requisites.
- Your employer knew or should have known about your pregnancy, childbirth, or condition.
- It wouldn’t be unduly hard for your employer to provide the accommodation.
You may be able to obtain compensation for your employer’s failure to accommodate you.Federal Law
Applying to workplaces with at least 15 employees, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act caps damages according to employer size. If your employer is small, you may be limited in what you can recover compared to your actual losses, but every case is different. There are situations in which federal case law is highly favorable, such that it may provide greater relief.Mitigating Damages
The law expects you to mitigate your damages. You must make reasonably diligent efforts to find an appropriate job even after you’ve faced termination or another adverse employment action. The court will consider various factors to determine whether you were diligent. These include:
- Steps you took to get a job,
- Job market
- Your own characteristics.
However, there has been an economic slowdown with the pandemic, and courts have not fully worked through what mitigation measures would be appropriate in light of those difficulties. You don’t need to accept a demotion or enter another line of work or accept degrading work that isn’t substantially equivalent to the one you were denied due to pregnancy discrimination to mitigate your damages. In court, your employer would have the burden of establishing you failed to mitigate damages by showing there was suitable work and that you didn’t take reasonable steps to get one of those jobs.
For instance, the court could find you didn’t mitigate damages if:
- A headhunter found you a comparable job after being fired due to pregnancy, but you decided you’d prefer to take a few months off than accept the offer.
- You didn’t apply to any jobs after being terminated from your job.
- Your employer passed you over for a promotion at a specific location because it couldn’t provide a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy there but offered you comparable work in a different, equally suitable location. Feeling snubbed, you refused to work in the alternative job, even though you could have.
The value of your case depends on many factors. We maintain a database of past settlements and verdicts. We can compare your situation to others we’ve handled to get a sense of how much compensation you can get. No lawyer can guarantee a particular outcome. However, when you work with seasoned trial lawyers, you have a better shot, both at mediation and at trial, of recovering the compensation you need. If you’re wondering how much compensation you get for pregnancy discrimination in New York City, you should call our seasoned employment discrimination attorneys. Phillips & Associates fights for pregnant workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County, or Suffolk County. Call us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form for a free consultation.