Fifth Circuit Establishes Limit on Recovery of Damages in Discrimination Cases Where Multiple Claims are Plead

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RECOVERY OF DAMAGES IN DISCRIMINATION CASES. In 1991, the Congress enacted a new statute -- 42 U.S.C. §1981a -- designed to overrule certain restrictive rulings by the United States Supreme Court. The Congress included in that law the right of a claimant to recover not only backpay, but also compensatory and punitive damages for elements of damages such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, and future pecuniary or non-pecuniary losses, when suing for violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act(which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national original, religion, or gender, and which also prohibits retaliation), or for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

STATUTORY CAP ON RECOVERY OF DAMAGES. As part of a legislative compromise, the Congress also included in this new law a "cap" on the recovery of such damages, whether compensatory or punitive damages, based upon the size of the workforce of the employer being sued. The cap established was $50,000 for employers with fewer than 101 employees, $100,000 for employers with fewer than 201 employees, $200,000 for employers with fewer than 501 employees, and $300,000 for employers with more than 500 employees.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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