If you are in the unfortunate position of being wrongfully terminated, a natural question is: what damages am I entitled to?
Fortunately, state and federal laws, including those in Minnesota, offer extensive damages to individuals who prove they were wrongfully terminated.
Back Pay and Front Pay
The first bucket of damages is damages for lost compensation. Almost all state and federal laws allow you to recover your wage loss, which can take the form of back pay and/or front pay. Back pay is the amount of wages you have lost due to your termination up until the date you demonstrate you were wrongfully terminated. This is a relatively straightforward calculation when if you haven’t found other employment. For example, if you were paid $100,000 dollars a year and you were out of work for two years, you would be entitled to $200,000. If you found another job, your damages would be reduced by the amount of compensation you made in the other job.
Many statutes also provide for front pay. This amount attempts to estimate how much future wage loss you will have following a determination that you have been wrongfully terminated. Typically, courts are reluctant to award more than two years of front pay, but it depends on the circumstances.
Emotional Distress and Non-Wage Loss Damages
Many statutes also allow you to recover other damages that are more subjective. If you were wrongfully terminated on account of discrimination or retaliation, you will ordinarily be entitled to damages such as emotional distress and reputational loss. It is important to keep detailed documentation of these types of damages to give yourself the best chance at maximum recovery.
In certain circumstances, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. These damages do not attempt to calculate the damage done to you but instead are meant to penalize a company for especially egregious conduct. If your employer engaged in intentional and obvious illegal conduct, many statutes will allow courts to impose punitive damages on companies for such actions.
Often, you may also be entitled to recover your attorneys’ fees if you prove wrongful termination. Many statutes allow employees to recover these fees so that attorneys are not dissuaded from taking on cases that may be time consuming without significant wage loss or other forms of damage. If attorneys know they will recover their attorneys’ fees, it encourages them to take on cases where the company acted illegally, regardless of the extent of wage loss.
Finally, statutes frequently allow for recovery of pre-judgment interest on your damages. This means that even if it takes a long time to prove wrongful termination, you will be entitled to a certain percent of interest on your recovery—accounting for the time you had to wait.
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, the law provides you with the ability to recover significant amount of damages. Our experienced attorneys at Schaefer Halleen will be able to review your case and determine the extent of possible damages and also evaluate the merits of your case.