Employees frequently sue their employers for a variety of reasons. Lawsuits that result in an incredible amount of money paid out to an aggrieved employee are rare, but they do happen. Many claims that start out as lawsuits also end up getting resolved through settlements. But the award amount can sometimes be determined by the law under which the employee sues or the kind of compensation the employee seeks.
Employees may be entitled to back and front pay. Back pay is compensation for the time in between when the adverse treatment occurred and the judgment date. Front pay is compensation for lost future wages because the employee could not be reinstated.
Other damages could be awarded, such as compensatory damages, liquidated damages, and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded for employees entitled to payment of medical bills, emotional distress, or pain and suffering. Compensatory damages are what is required to make the complaining party “whole.”
Liquidated damages and punitive damages are awarded to punish employers for bad actions. Beyond making an employee “whole,” these kinds of damages are meant to deter the employer from acting similarly in the future. In the event the court finds the employer’s actions to be particularly offensive or malicious, it will award the plaintiff punitive and/or liquidated damages, which can result in the plaintiff receiving twice as much money as they lost in the first place.