Q. If we’re sued for age discrimination, is the potential award limited to lost wages and benefits? Or can a court also award damages like pain and suffering? — D.B., Nebraska
A. The federal age-discrimination law borrows its damages provisions from the wage-and-hour law (not Title VII anti-discrimination law). Thus, the following remedies are available in an age-bias case:
- Back pay consisting of the wages and benefits the employee would have earned.
- Attorneys’ fees and costs if the plaintiff prevails.
- Liquidated damages equal to the amount of back pay for intentional violations.
- Front pay, which compensates the plaintiff for future wage losses.
However, unlike Title VII, federal age-discrimination law doesn’t give plaintiffs the right to collect compensatory damages (for pain and suffering) or punitive damages. State age-discrimination laws may make additional remedies available.
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