One of the first questions people have, after they learn that they have a potential wrongful termination case, is ‘how much is my claim worth?’ While every case is different, there are some general principles that can be applied to determine potential value.
Lost wages, both past and future, are one of the most significant sources of damages in any employment law claim. Basically, these are intended to compensate an individual for money lost as a result of being wrongfully terminated. The value of lost wages can vary significantly. If an individual actively seeks employment but is unable to secure a position then they may be entitled to wages that they would have earned during that period. If an individual secures employment, but at a lower salary then their previous job, they may be entitled to the difference between salaries for a number of years projected in the future.
A separate source of damages can come from emotional distress. Different individuals can have drastically different reactions to termination based on their personal situation and life experience. Some might be able to recover quickly, find a new job, and be right back on their feet. Others, however, may take much longer if they suffer severe and debilitating psychological stress stemming from the employer’s wrongful termination.
Punitive damages have the potential of increasing the overall value of a case. These are not available in every case, only when the employer’s actions are deemed by the court to warrant greater punishment. Unlike lost wages and emotional distress, which are designed to compensate the wronged individual, punitive damages are meant to punish the employer and discourage such behavior in the future.
Finally, attorney’s fees might be available depending upon the statute violated by the employer. This can also be a significant factor in increasing the value of a case.
This is just a brief overview of the sources of damages in a wrongful termination case. Ultimately, each case, just like each individual, is different and the amount of money at stake can vary widely. If you believe you have a wrongful termination claim, and are curious as to how much it might be worth, an experienced employment law attorney can help to evaluate your case.