While the roles of employees can be vastly different, all employees have the right to be treated equally and fairly in the workplace. When this does not occur or mistreatment ensues because an employer discriminated against an employee because of their race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability or genetic information, it is possible to take action and hold an employer responsible for these wrongdoings.
A discrimination action seeks to not only hold an employer accountable for discriminating against an employee, but also provide remedies for the wrongdoings that occurred. When damages are awarded, the goal is to put the victim of discrimination in the position they would have been in had the discriminatory act never took place.
The type of relief recovered is based on the act and the effect it had on the victim. Typically, compensatory and punitive damages are sought. These might be awarded when the case involved intentional discrimination. Compensatory damages are used to pay for the victim's out-of-pocket expenses caused by the act and to compensate them for any emotional harmed suffered by the incident.
On the other hand, punitive damages are awarded to punish an employer for their wrongdoings. This is especially true in instances where the act of discrimination was malicious or reckless. Finally, a victim could also recover attorney's fees, fees associated with expert witnesses and other court costs.
While monetary awards can help remedy the situation, it does not take away all the harms caused by employment discrimination. Thus, it is important to understand your rights and how best to go about the situation if you believe you are a victim of employment discrimination.
Source: Eeoc.gov, "Remedies For Employment Discrimination," accessed Feb. 18, 2018