Under Title VII, a plaintiff can seek reinstatement if s/he wins the lawsuit. But, many plaintiffs do not want to return to their old job. No matter how much they may have loved their job, they fear returning to a discriminatory environment. With proper protections, the plaintiff’s attitude might change about returning. Many – actually most employers – would prefer the employtee not return. Even if the employer can get over the hurt of a lawsuit, they fear a rash of additional alwsuits.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act anticipates this problem. Title VII provides that an employee is entitled to reinstatement. But, if returning to the job is not feasible, then the court (i.e., the Judge) can award future pay. Future pay (or front pay) is very rare, but it does happen.
But, what happens when the plaintiff is asked whether she wants to return in her deposition and she answers in an ambiguous way? Mike Maslanka discusses such a case. In Dube v. Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the plaintiff said she did not want to return "at this time." The Western District of Texas found that the employee did not truly want to return and, therefore, reinstatement could be excluded from her lawsuit. Ms. Dube had moved out of state and was equivocal about returning to Texas for a job, especially one where she felt threatened in some way.
Later, she tried to say in an affidavit that she would indeed like to be reinstated to her old job. But, as often happens, the Judge gave more weight to her deposition testimony than to a subsequent affidavit. So, yes, as Mike notes, if reinstatement is foregone, then so is any chance at future pay. See Mike’s post here. So, in this situation, be careful what you don’t want, because you just might not get it….