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What is the Average Wrongful Termination Settlement?
All You Need to Know

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If you’ve been wrongfully terminated, the biggest question running through your mind is probably what damages you can get in a wrongful termination claim. However, there’s no average wrongful termination as every case is different. Instead, this depends on several factors.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers have dealt with numerous wrongful termination lawsuits, so today, we’ll explain everything there is to know about wrongful termination settlements.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Wrongful termination means you’ve been illegally fired, most often based on discrimination.
  • Several factors determine how much compensation you can get, such as future wages, damages suffered, attorneys fees, and more.
  • You need employment lawyers to explain your legal rights and get a fair settlement amount.

What is Wrongful Termination?

An employee fired from work

Wrongful termination is an illegal firing of an employee. The employment agreement is violated, and it breaks state or federal law.  Often, wrongful termination is motivated by discrimination. Employment in the US is at will, which means that the employer has the right to fire you for a legal reason or no reason at all.

Illegal reasons are reasons that go against employment laws.  Several employment laws protect against wrongful termination, the most significant being The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of the act prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, color, sex, and sexual orientation [1].

Answering file form Apart from these, Congress passed other legislation, so you’re also protected against termination based on:

  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Marital status
  • Genetic information

If an employer fired you because of any of these, you have cause for a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Wrongful termination cases usually take longer than other civil lawsuits and are brought under civil rights statutesIn most cases, you’ll have to go through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agency to file your wrongful termination case.

Factors That Affect Wrongful Termination Settlement

Two different document file for termination settlement

According to the EEOC, the nature of the damages you stand to get are determined by the nature and severity of the injuries you suffered [2]. If you’re filing a wrongful termination claim, you have the full legal burden of proving you were wrongfully terminated, as well as proving the extent of the damages. However, you can hire a wrongful termination lawyer to help you. 

Several factors affect a wrongful termination case:

1. Back Pay/Front Pay

First person of someone handing moneyBack pay is the amount of money you would have been paid if you hadn’t been wrongfully terminated. This starts from the day you were fired.

Front pay is additional financial relief. It’s the amount of money you would have made until finding another job and transitioning into a new position.

Note: You’re expected to mitigate your losses, so you should look for a new job as soon as you can.

Otherwise, the employer can show you’ve failed to mitigate the losses, and this can result in a reduction of damages awarded to you.

2. Loss of Benefits

An attorney can help you calculate the lost benefits, such as health insurance, dental insurance, pension, retirement plans, promotions, raises, and more. The benefits are added to the value of wages and calculated for the time you were expected to continue working for that employer. The benefits should also be adjusted to inflation.

For example, if you had to pay for health care out of your own pocket, you can recover those damages in a wrongful termination case.

3. Emotional Distress Damages

Emotionally distressed personEmotional distress falls under non-economic damages. It’s more difficult to recover, as these are subjective losses. You need a wrongful termination attorney who can help you build a strong case.

Damages for emotional distress can be significant, especially if the employer’s actions were outstandingly bad.

Fear of pain and suffering is one of the main reasons why wrongful termination settlements happen out of court.

The most common kinds of pain and suffering include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Damaged professional reputation
  • Post-traumatic disorder

The best way to prove emotional distress is to get counseling or therapy. Medical expenses can serve as evidence of pain and suffering.

4. Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are other intangible losses you suffered because of your employer’s egregious behavior.

“Punitive damages are considered punishment and are typically awarded at the court’s discretion when the defendant’s behavior is found to be especially harmful.” Cornell Legal Information Institute

Punitive damages are rare, and they are awarded when you have evidence that shows the former employer acted with malice. They should prevent the employer from behaving in the same way in the future.

Because of this, the amount of damages you can get is double or triple the usual damages you receive for wrongful termination.

5.) Other Factors

Calculator and dollar bills close up image

Several other factors influence the damages you get, such as:

  • Compensatory damages — These are expenses and damages caused by harassment you were exposed to.
  • Job-hunting costs — Expenses you had related to finding a new job can be added to the settlement.
  • Employer size — In general, if your employer was a large company, you stand to get almost twice as much as an employee of a small employer. This is because large companies have money to offer a higher settlement.
  • Attorney fees, such as the contingency fee and court costs.

Average Settlement for Wrongful Termination Claims

It’s difficult to determine the average wrongful termination settlement as each case is unique, but most workers receive between $5,000 and $80,000, with the majority falling in the middle [3].

Handcuffs and dollar bills The settlement amount depends on:

  • The salary you had
  • Job benefits
  • Your age and skillset
  • Employer’s conduct
  • If the employer damaged your reputation 
  • If your future job prospects are hurt
  • If you mitigated loses
  • If you have an experienced wrongful termination attorney 

In general, if you had an upper management position and your job termination was a clear violation of the law, you stand to get more damages than an entry-level worker.

Also, wrongful termination cases are usually hard to prove. This is why wrongful termination claims often end in an out-of-court settlement. Companies just want the wrongful termination cases to go away, so they are ready to offer money to settle.

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FAQ

Is It Hard to Prove Wrongful Termination?

Yes, it can be hard to prove wrongful termination. Employers or managers won’t readily admit that they fired you illegally, so you’ll need evidence that they acted illegally towards you to win a wrongful termination lawsuit.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination?

A violation of federal anti-discrimination laws or a contractual breach qualifies as wrongful termination.

Get Help from Wrongful Termination Attorneys

Being wrongfully terminated is a traumatic experience that has monetary and other consequences.  It’s difficult to determine the average settlement because each case is different.

However, an employment lawyer can help you calculate the amount you are entitled to and seek compensation. Schmidt & Clark wrongful termination lawyers are familiar with employment law and ready to provide legal advice. Our lawyers are accustomed to working on sensitive cases, and they value every attorney-client relationship.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get the settlement offer you deserve.


References:

1. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/oasam/civil-rights-center/statutes/civil-rights-act-of-1964

2. https://www.eeoc.gov/d-nonpecuniary-compensatory-damages-issues-review-claimants

3. https://www.coverwallet.com/general/average-settlement-wrongful-termination 

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