Retaliation Claims May Include Emotional Distress Damages
A precedent has been set in relation to retaliation claims brought against employers.
Two courts of appeals, the Sixth and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had both ruled that employees have the right to recover for emotional distress damages in retaliation claims brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA).
The National Law Review reported that a third court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals also delivered the same ruling regarding damages for emotional distress.
What Are the Case Details in This Third Ruling?
A maintenance man, Santiago Pineda, while working for an apartment complex owned by JTCH Apartments, LLC received discounted rent as part of his compensation for doing apartment maintenance. After Pineda sought unpaid overtime, he and his wife received notice to vacate the apartments with the reason being given that they had failed to pay rent. JTCH at that point was claiming Pineda owed rent for the course of his employment. Pineda sued for damages based on the eviction and demand for back rent. He also entered an appeal regarding the district court’s failure to instruct the jury about his ability to claim damages for emotional distress related to his retaliation claim.
The Fifth Court of Appeals ruled that the court was in error when declining to instruct the jury regarding Pineda’s right to damages for emotional distress, and it reversed and remanded the case for trial so the jury could decide on this potential damage.
How Could the Ruling About Retaliation Claims Impact Employers?
Employers should be aware that employees who also file for emotional distress damages could potentially recover much greater compensation than they would otherwise recover for a retaliation claim. A finding in favor of retaliation typically would compensate for back pay or other economical damages. When other types of compensatory damages are considered, as in this case emotional distress, the awards to employees could be substantial.
Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to offer legal advice and provide legal representation in disputed employment issues.