How Much Damages Might Be Awarded In My Case?

One reasonable way to value damages in an employment discrimination case is to see what amounts of damages have been awarded in other cases for emotional distress. This does not create a hard and fast rule, because damage awards for emotional distress very much depend on the circumstances of each case and how the individual employee has been affected. Still, where there is a truly substantial degree of similarity between cases, it seems reasonable to conclude that there will be a substantial degree of similarity in the amount of damages awarded. All that said here are some cases that discuss emotional distress damages awarded to federal employees in cases before the EEOC:

Gay v. Department of the Navy, EEOC Appeal No. 07A20089 (October 9, 2003). The EEOC declined to set aside a $300,000 emotional distress award due to an untimely appeal by the agency. The Commission declared that it would make no determination as to the appropriateness of the AJ's finding of discrimination or of the amount awarded in compensatory damages. The Commission's decision did not discuss the facts that the Administrative Judge determined supported the $300,000 emotional distress award.

Munno v. Department of Agriculture, EEOC Appeal No. 01A01734 (February 8, 2001)(The Commission increased an award of $150,000 in emotional distress to $250,000). Complainant's serious psychological and emotional injuries required treatment for an indefinite period. The Complainant was a manager whose ongoing emotional injury was extreme, but who was capable of performing her duties and qualified for promotion to a senior management position.

McCormick v. Department of Justice (Federal Bureau of Investigation), EEOC Appeal 0720100040 (November 23, 2011)($200,000 award for emotional distress). The Commission held the Agency's inept actions to accommodate complainant's disability were not in good faith. The Agency engaged in egregious, substantial discriminatory and retaliatory conduct that increased the physical pain and damage to complainant's neck and shoulder, and caused her to suffer severe depression. The Agency's negative memorandums circulated about complainant caused her emotional distress in that she feared the Agency was trying to fire her rather than accommodate and help her. The emotional distress led to permanent spasms that further damage to the discs in her back. Complainant suffered from migraines, lack of sleep, and severe and chronic pain. Her professional reputation was damaged by the portrayals as an insubordinate employee who refuses to do assignments. Complainant suffered a loss of enjoyment of life that is ongoing; changes in her demeanor, outlook, and physical and mental conditions that imperiled her marriage, hindered her ability to properly care for her young child; created a serious and potentially permanent rift with a child in college. She has withdrawn socially from friendships.

Linehan v. Marion County Coroner's Office, EEOC Appeal No. 1120080001 (August 24, 2009)($200,000 award for emotional distress). Award based on the emotional distress Complainant suffered from being demoted and fired, and from having his name besmirched in the press, all of which resulted "in months of treatment and counseling." Complainant did not submit medical records in support of the emotional distress claim.

Fonda-Wall v. Department of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0720060035 (July 29, 2009)(The Commission increased an Administrative Judge's award for emotional distress from $150,000 to $200,000). Complainant was in constant fear of the supervisor's retaliatory acts. The rumors about her mental health were detrimental to her reputation. The Agency's actions caused her to be transferred and suffer in her family and financial life. Complainant's emotional harm manifested itself into physical harm over a period of 8 years. In addition to the $200,000 emotional distress award, EEOC awarded pecuniary damages for wear and tear on Complainant's vehicle in the amount of $ 8,859.16; trailer rental and storage costs in the amount of $ 3,484.19; moving expenses in the amount of $ 1,136.00; lodging costs in the amount of $ 244.08; lost profit on the sale of Complainant's home in the amount of $65,600.00; tutoring costs for Complainant's children due to readjustment after being involuntarily moved twice in the amount of $ 32,000.00; attorney's fees incurred for child custody issues arising from Complainant taking children out of state in the amount of $ 3,000.00; cell phone costs in the amount of $ 4,628.59; fees paid to a special advocate for Complainant's children in the amount of $ 5,000.00; plane fare for children to visit their father in her former work location in the amount of $1,289.00; office supply costs in connection with this complaint in the amount of $3,000.00; and past and future psychological care for Complainant's children's separation anxiety from their father and stepfather in the amount of $12,996.60.

Blount v. Department of Homeland Security, EEOC Appeal No. 0720070010 (October 21, 2009), request for reconsideration denied EEOC Request No. 0520100148 (April 16, 2010)($200,000 award for emotional distress) Complainant testified that due to the loss of his job, his ex-wife sued for custody of his children, and he was unable to satisfy his child and spousal support obligations. Complainant stated that the agency's actions brought him to the brink of "financial ruin."

Glockner v. Department of Veteran's Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. 07A30105 (Sept. 23, 2004)($200,000 award for emotional distress). The Complainant was harassed at work for nearly five years and diagnosed as suffering depression, anxiety, exhaustion, migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal disorder. Complainant did not take medication for depression, but demonstrated depression through testimony.

Sebek v. Attorney General, EEOC Appeal No. 07A00005 (March 8, 2001)($200,000 award for emotional distress). The Administrative Judge's award of $200,000 was upheld by the Commission because the agency failed to provide the Commission the evidentiary record that was before the EEOC Administrative Judge.

Stiehl v. Postmaster General., EEOC Case No. 150-2004-00433X (Administrative Judge Decision, Miami District Office, Sept. 12, 2008)($200,000 award for emotional distress). Complainant suffered PTSD, major depression, anxiety, inability to work, anger, hypertension, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, changed his relationships with his family and suffered loss of self worth. Complainant was unable to function in the same manner as he could before the harassment and despite medication and counseling, he had not been cured or significantly improved.