Memphis Tennessee Employment Lawyer

Lost Wages and Benefits

Lost wages are divided into two categories: past lost wages and reinstatement or future lost wages. Past lost wages are commonly referred to as backpay. Backpay is money awarded to compensate the employee for the pay that he or she lost because of the unlawful discrimination. Backpay can be determined from the day that the unlawful discrimination occurred until the day the judgment is entered or a settlement is achieved. Back pay can also include payments for benefits lost during that same time period, including those payments that an employer would have made to an employee's pension fund.

In addition to backpay, a successful plaintiff can also seek reinstatement to the same or similar position. If no position is immediately available, or if there is substantial animosity between the parties, then an award of front pay may be appropriate. The decision to award front pay is in the discretion of the judge. Front pay can be awarded for a specific length of time, or it can be awarded until the age at which the plaintiff would have retired.

In situations where reinstatement is not granted, the pension issue can complicate the case valuation. If the former employee's pension fund would have continued to accumulate until a given point in the future if not for the unlawful discrimination, then that amount can be recovered as well. Of course, recovery of future payments will be discounted to present value.

You should keep in mind that in employment-related litigation, such as yours, you have a duty to mitigate the damage of your lost wages. This essentially means that you have a duty to seek "comparable" employment. "Comparable employment" has generally been defined as a job within commuting distance of your home which is comparable in level and pay to your prior job. If you do not mitigate your damages, the employer will not be liable to you for any lost pay or benefits.

Essentially, the law provides that you cannot recover for damages that may have been caused through your own failure to seek other comparable employment. For this reason, it is extremely important that you continue to diligently seek other employment within commuting distance of your home and with comparable pay, benefits and status as your previous job and keep a journal of your job search activities.

Sometimes, the employer will present classified ads with specific jobs indicated that were similar to the job from which you were terminated. The employer will attempt to show that jobs were available and that you did not seek those jobs. Therefore, the employee is not entitled to any damages even if you win your case. Keeping a journal of your job search activities can help to defuse this strategy and make it easier for you to prove your mitigation efforts.

Attorney James Becker


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Becker Law Firm • 5100 Poplar Ave Ste 2606 • Memphis, TN 38137 • Phone: 901.881.6205
Becker Law Office of Memphis, Tennessee represents clients in the Metro Area and West Tennessee, including Cordova, Germantown, Collierville, Lakeland, Millington, Somerville, Covington, Paris, Nashville, Savannah, Jackson, Union City, Dyersburg, McKenzie and all communities of Shelby County, Fayette County and Tipton County.
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