What supports a damages award in a wrongful termination or retaliation case? A long-term career cut short, prolonged unemployment and destructive impact on the fired employee's family life supported a jury verdict awarding $650,000 for emotional distress.

A jury's award of $650,000 as compensatory damages for emotional distress and mental anguish, embarassment and humiliation suffered by a retaliation victim was upheld by the Sixth Circuit in Fischer v. UPS, No 08-1600 (6th Circuit, July 27, 2010). While noting that the fired employee had not sought or obtained any medical treatment, the court upheld the $650,000 damage award based on the following:

Plaintiff's termination ended a long career (18 years) and he testified that: 1) his firing was "horrible" and "depressing;" 2) he was unable to find any other employment for one year afterwards; 3) he ultimately found work in different industries which required him to live away from his family during the week; 4) his termination played a large part in his divorce; and 5) the divorce and separation due to his distant jobs strained his relationship wiht his minor children.  Based on his testimony alone, Plaintiff is entitled to recover for "humiliation, embarrassment, disappointment, and other forms of mental anguish resulting from the discrimination."

Furthermore, the court noted the primacy of the jury in fixing and awarding damages: "this court has cautioned against attempts by appellate courts 'to reconcile widely varied past awards for analogous injuries which in the abbreviated appellate discussion of them seem somewhat similar.'"