When a jury concluded that a supervisor got a subordinate fired for complaining about race discrimination, it zapped the employer with huge punitive damages in addition to back pay. However, it will only have to pay a fraction of that amount.
Recent case: Aubrey Chisholm lost his job at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center after complaining to his boss about discrimination. He claimed that, in retaliation, the supervisor concocted a reason to fire him.
A jury awarded Chisholm $233,000 in back pay—plus $1 million as punishment. Then the judge tacked on future lost pay, setting that figure at an additional $105,000 (presuming Chisholm would only have worked for a few more years). However, the judge reduced the punitive damages to just $50,000. (Chisholm v. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, No. 09-Civ-8211, SD NY, 2011)
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- Say no to accommodations if 'disability' barely scratches the surface of credibility
- Limit sensitive meetings to 'need-to-know' managers
- Understanding Minnesota's personnel record requirements gives you a leg up during litigation