The most obvious form of damages in most employment discrimination cases is lost wages, but other types of damages may be available, including damages for emotional distress. Several of the laws that make workplace discrimination illegal allow for the recovery of damages for emotional distress. Claims for emotional distress most commonly come up in hostile work environment and sexual harassment cases. They can be awarded in other discrimination cases as well, including retaliation and promotion denial cases.
Emotional distress damages may cover a broad range of different injuries, including sleeplessness, harm to reputation, stress on familial relationships, diagnosed psychiatric conditions like anxiety disorder or depression, mental anguish or loss of enjoyment of life. In order to recover for emotional distress damages, the person must show that the employment discrimination, and not something else, was the cause of the emotional harm.
There are two common ways to prove damages due to emotional distress. First, the injured employee testifies about the discrimination and how it led to psychological injury. Second, the testimony of a doctor may be used to establish the emotional harm suffered. In emotional distress cases, it may not be necessary to have a medical professional testify to establish harm. The injured party can often present testimony of family, friends and coworkers or testify themselves to establish emotional harm. When a jury is considering the appropriate amount of emotional distress damages, it might consider the severity and duration of the discrimination, among other factors.
An attorney who has experience in employment law might be able to assist people who have been victims of workplace discrimination in Georgia. An attorney may help by examining the facts of the situation, conducting witness interviews or depositions, developing a theory of damages and recovery or drafting and file the legal documents necessary to initiate a civil case. Many cases settle out of court prior to the filing of a complaint.