Workplace discrimination is so insidious that it can change the lives of victims before they know what is happening. For instance, it can cause the slow progression of depression and other psychological issues. According to a recent study, chronic discrimination may even affect the physical health of victims.
Federal law protects employees against discrimination and provides legal remedies when it does occur. California takes these protections further than many states by offering victims a chance at extra financial compensation.
What are punitive damages?
You probably know you could obtain economic damages for the harm workplace discrimination caused you. For example, those wrongfully terminated because of race, religion or another protected status might recover lost wages.
Under California law, eligible claimants may obtain exemplary or punitive damages on top of their other compensation. To prove you deserve extra restitution, you must show that the employer engaged in oppression, malice or fraud in their treatment of you.
Punitive damages generally serve two purposes. They punish those responsible for discrimination and deter further mistreatment. Punitive awards also show other employers what could happen if they allow discrimination to occur in the workplace.
Who deserves exemplary damages?
If it were up to the American workforce, all those experiencing employment discrimination could obtain punitive damages. However, lawmakers and courtrooms have the final say in who deserves extra consideration (and compensation) after workplace mistreatment.
With that said, you probably have a better chance of proving your case than you think. To discover your odds of success, take your story to an employment law professional for a thorough review. At the very least, you will learn how to proceed even if punitive damages are out of the picture.