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Be nice to that ex-Employee who sued! He might come back

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When an employee who was fired or didn’t get a promotion sues, it’s easy to get angry—especially if you don’t believe you or your organization’s supervisors did anything wrong. But that’s a mistake. The better approach is to remain cordial and civil.

Here’s why: Courts have long taken the position that Title VII—the section of the Civil Rights Act that covers many types of discrimination—“favors” reinstatement. After all, the law was designed to stamp out discrimination, not to reward employees who were discriminated against with a lump-sum payment.

Employees who sue can and do ask to be reinstated as part of the remedy. If that isn’t possible because the workplace is so poisoned with anger and animosity, then a jury will set a price on the value of the lost position. And that may be far more than it would cost to take the employee back.

Recent case: Chander Kant was born in India and taught economics as an associate professor at Seton Hall University. The university passed over Kant for tenure and promotions several times, and he filed several internal grievances. He lost them all. Then he sued, alleging it was all because of his national origin.

A jury awarded Kant $80,000 in lost future pay, concluding that Seton Hall had retaliated against him for complaining earlier. Kant then asked for his promotion and tenure, offering to trade it for his $80,000 award.

The court refused on a technicality. But it emphasized that reinstatement and promotion are the best remedies under Title VII—just not in this case because Kant hadn’t asked before the jury awarded lost future pay. In other words, he didn’t make the request early enough. (Kant v. Seton Hall University, No. 06-4448, 3rd Cir., 2008)

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