Employment Law Damages and Enforcement

HR Policy Association is strongly opposed to the elimination of the current caps on compensatory and punitive damages for employment discrimination claims.  In the area of individual employment rights and disputes, the United States is one of the most litigious countries in the world.  Until 1991, most labor and employment laws provided "make whole" relief, which included back pay, attorneys' fees, injunctive relief, such as reinstatement, and other remedies that would restore the wronged party to his or her position prior to the violation.  Under the Civil Rights Act Amendments of 1991 these remedies were expanded to provide compensatory and punitive damages (thus making jury trials available) that are capped based on the size of the employer, between $50,000 and $300,000. After enactment of the 1991 law, the caseload of discrimination lawsuits increased rapidly and substantially, primarily because of contingency arrangements in which plaintiffs' attorneys would collect a significant portion of the remedy. Elimination of the caps on damages would accelerate this trend immeasurably, creating a greater burden on the courts, increasing delays in the resolution of disputes and imposing a significant economic burden on American businesses during a diffcult economic climate.