Damages in a New York Wrongful Termination Case

Submitted by pec on

New York is an at-will employment state. This means that most employers can, with some notable exceptions, fire their employees whenever they want to do so without giving a reason. Employees who wish to leave employment also do not need to give a reason.

The exceptions to at-will termination are set out in both state and federal employment legislation. Employers who have fired an employee in breach of employment laws may have done so illegally. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated you can file a complaint with the relevant government agency and may be able to sue your employer.

What are the Damages in a New York Wrongful Termination Claim?

Damages are defined as the negative consequences of a wrongful act. In a New York wrongful termination claim, the former employee states the damages they believe they have suffered from as a result of being fired illegally. Damages in a wrongful termination lawsuit may be both economic and non-economic. Economic damages tend to be the easiest to substantiate and calculate, but in many wrongful termination cases, non-economic damages may be as great or of greater value than economic damages. Examples of both economic and non-economic damages are discussed further below.

Economic Damages

Economic damages tend to be more tangible and easier to demonstrate and calculate. As long as there is clear evidence of what the employee has suffered in economic terms from their alleged wrongful termination, this will make it easier for the employee to establish a case for fair compensation.

Typical examples of economic damages include:

  • lost wages due to wrongful termination;
  • future lost wages if there is a lengthy time interval before another job can be found paying similar wages as before;
  • lost benefits which had been enjoyed as part of accepted remuneration in the last job such as uniform, meals, accommodation, medical insurance, etc;
  • the costs involved in finding a new job, such as transportation costs;
  • legal fees including attorney costs and court fees.

Intangible or Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are harder to calculate as they are less tangible. In a New York wrongful termination claim, non-economic damages tend to be determined by an acknowledgement of the “emotional or psychological pain and suffering” experienced by the employee who has been wrongfully terminated. In some states, the amount that can be obtained for non-economic damages is capped and there may be a percentage calculation used to determine how much in damages should be awarded. The percentage is typically a percentage of the economic damages that have been claimed. Non-economic damages in a lawsuit may be determined by the judge if the case goes to court.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are less commonly awarded in wrongful termination cases. They may be demanded if there is evidence that can be supplied showing that the employer fired an employee maliciously. Punitive damages may then be awarded in order to punish the employer and act as a example to other employers that wrongful termination has its legal and financial consequences.

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