Courts limit punitive damages in discrimination cases

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Punitive damages can take a case that’s worth just a few thousand dollars and send the tab skyrocketing. Fortunately, courts want to see clear evidence that the employer acted recklessly before they ask juries if punitive damages are appropriate.

Recent case: Alexander, from Belarus, sued his former employer, Seagate Technology, for alleged discrimination based on race or national origin. He claimed his name was wrongly left off a patent application, that he was ostracized and denied promotions that U.S.-born workers received.

The court rejected Alexander’s request for punitive damages. It reasoned that this was a run-of-the-mill discrimination case, not one in which he was alleging Seagate acted with malice or reckless indifference to his federal rights. (Skukh v. Seagate Technologies, No. 10-404, DC MN, 2012)

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