Understanding Compensation in Minnesota Wrongful Termination Lawsuits
Employees who were wrongfully terminated for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons often ask us some variation of the same question: what might I be entitled to if I file a lawsuit against my employer and win? The answer depends on the type of legal claim and which Minnesota or federal law was violated, among other factors. In general, however, there are several common categories of potential compensation for victims of employment discrimination and retaliation:
Back pay is the lost compensation the wrongfully terminated employee could have reasonably expected to receive from the time of termination to trial. This includes base salary, bonuses, commissions, and benefits. While an employee is entitled to their back pay under most discrimination and retaliation laws, any earnings of the employee after his/her termination are subtracted from the back pay award.
Front pay or “future pay” is a terminated employee’s anticipated lost compensation after trial. Courts consider multiple factors in determining the amount of front pay. The length of time the employee could have reasonably expected to have been employed if he/she had not been wrongfully terminated is the primary consideration.
Under most Minnesota and federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination and retaliation, a wrongfully terminated employee is entitled to compensation for the emotional “pain and suffering” resulting from their termination. The amount of such compensation is a highly subjective determination to be made by the judge or jury.
Punitive Damages and Civil Penalties
Punitive damages or statutorily pre-specified civil penalties may be awarded to a wrongfully terminated employee in order to punish the employer for particularly outrageous discriminatory or retaliatory conduct and deter similar conduct in the workplace. The amount awarded is unrelated to the economic loss of the wrongfully terminated employee or the extent of his/her emotional distress, but the employee receives the amount anyway.
Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
If a wrongfully terminated employee prevails in court, he or she may be entitled to compensation for the attorneys’ fees and costs he or she incurred throughout the case.
Of course, the above explanation of potential compensation for wrongful terminations is a quick summary – there are many factors to consider. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, you should discuss your potential remedies with an experienced employment attorney. We here at Schaefer Halleen would be happy to speak with you.