What Can a Plaintiff Obtain in an Employment Lawsuit in California

The State of California provides strong employment law protections for workers. When these laws are violated by an employer, the affected employee has the right to take legal action. If an employee, or plaintiff, is successful in an employment lawsuit in California, they may be awarded different types of compensation, often referred to as “damages”. An experienced California employment lawyer can explain what a plaintiff can potentially obtain in such a lawsuit.

Back Pay

Back pay refers to the compensation lost by an employee due to the employer’s unlawful action, such as wrongful termination, wage theft, or discrimination. This can include salary or hourly wages, bonuses, commissions, and more. The goal of back pay is to put the employee in the same financial position they would have been in if the violation had not occurred.

Front Pay

Front pay is the prospective loss of earnings from the date of the verdict into the future, for a reasonable period during which the plaintiff can be expected to secure comparable employment. It’s awarded when reinstatement is not feasible, or the plaintiff requires more time to secure a similar position elsewhere.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages, also known as actual damages, are meant to compensate an employee for out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the employer’s unlawful actions. These could include costs related to job search efforts or medical expenses resulting from workplace harassment or discrimination.

Emotional Distress Damages

Emotional distress damages are awarded for the emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life that an employee experiences as a result of an employer’s unlawful conduct. These damages can often exceed the financial loss depending on the nature and severity of the conduct.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended to punish an employer for particularly egregious conduct and to deter similar behavior in the future. Not all employment lawsuits will involve punitive damages, but when they do, these damages can be significantly larger than other forms of compensation.

Legal Fees and Costs

California law allows successful plaintiffs in employment cases to recover attorney’s fees and costs. This includes court fees, expenses for depositions, witness fees, and other expenses related to the lawsuit.

Interest on Unpaid Wages

In cases involving wage and hour disputes, a plaintiff can also recover interest on unpaid wages. The rate of interest in California is generally 10% per annum from the date the wages were due.

In conclusion, the specific remedies available to plaintiffs in an employment lawsuit in California will depend on the facts of the case and the specific claims brought against the employer. If you believe your rights have been violated, it is essential to consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can guide you through the process and help you understand what you may be able to recover.


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