I discuss this with clients so often. How much is my case worth? Most clients believe their case is worth millions. And, it is. To you. But, what is it worth to a jury? I have explained that studies of discrimination lawsuits have found that most often, juries do not award compensatory or emotional suffering damages when an employee wins. Yes, that’s right. Even when you win, most juries award nothing for emotional suffering.
And, when a jury does award compensatory damages, they tend to award more or less the equivalent of lost pay. In a recent case before a federal jury in Austin, a UTHSC professor was awarded $900,000. That amount will be reduced to $300,000, since Title VII limits compensatory damages to $300,000.
But, even as a $900,000 award, his lost pay was very high. His pay was cut 25% in 2003. So, he has lost some $175,000 in pure wage reduction. Add whatever he would have lost in retirement benefits, because now his pay is at a reduced level. Add whatever he could prove in lost raises or bonuses. Add whatever he could show was lost income because UTHSC apparently caused his discoveries to lose value. Then, add whatever value the jury awarded because he was diagnosed with depression, heart problems and diabetes. In fact, his first trial was apparently cancelled when he had a stroke at the trial.
So, yes, those million dollar judgments are out there. But, to get those high judgments, you have to suffer a heck of a lot and you have to already have a pretty high income anyway.