We offer an online damages calculator to help you assess what your employment discrimination case might be worth, but first you need to take a hard and honest look at whether you have a case at all. To help you answer this, the calculator starts with some threshold questions to help you determine whether what happened to you qualifies for legal recovery under a federal antidiscrimination law. (Note that the calculator also does not address the strength of your case if you clear these hurdles.)
1. Are you a private employee?
This calculator is designed to apply to employees of private companies, not government workers. Government employers—and therefore their employees—are covered by laws and procedures that sometimes differ from private employers.
For instance, a government employee has a shorter statute of limitations within which he or she must file a claim. In some cases, this is as brief as 45 days, instead of the 180 or 300 days allowed in the private sector. A second difference is that in most cases an employee cannot win punitive damages against the government.
That said, the calculator is still relevant to government workers. For instance, the sections on lost wages, consequential damages, and emotional distress apply to government and private company employees.
2. Are there 15 or more employees at your company?
Most federal antidiscrimination laws only apply to companies with 15 or more employees, though under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, there must be at least 20. Fortunately, the rules for counting employees are fairly broad. Employees include part-time employees and joint-employers.
If your company is smaller, don’t abandon all hope. Some employment laws—such as wage laws and some state laws—apply to employers regardless of their size. Some of these laws will include elements of the damages used by this calculator. So you may find it a useful exercise to go through the calculator, even if your company is smaller. Just be aware that you may need to do some more homework or talk to a lawyer to get an accurate measure of your potential damages.
3. Have you filed a charge with the EEOC?
Most federal antidiscrimination laws require that, before initiating a court case, you first file what is called a “charge” with an administrative agency like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a related state or local agency. These agencies will usually be called something like the “Office of Civil Rights” for the state or locality.
Under federal law, depending on what state you live in, you have either 180 or 300 days to file an administrative charge before you lose any right to sue in court, no matter how strong your case was. It’s crazy but true: you can have a million-dollar case on the 300th day after you were fired, or—for the very same case—a zero-dollar value the next day, if you failed to file a charge.
If you did not file an administrative charge within this timeline, you may not have a discrimination claim in court. But, again, don’t lose heart yet. Wage claims, like failure to pay overtime and Equal Pay Act cases, and some race discrimination claims (called Section 1981 claims) do not require filing with an administrative agency. These claims also have much longer periods—often years—in which the claim remains viable. So, if you just found us on day 301 and you haven’t filed a charge, stick with this a little longer. You may still have an avenue for a court case under another law.
Summing It Up
If you’re considering filing a claim in court and you want to know what it might be worth, our online damages calculator can help you estimate your recoverable damages.
If you are an employee of a private company, your company has at least 15 or 20 employees, and you are within the allowable timeline to file an administrative charge, the calculator applies to you. If you answered no to any of these questions, you can still use the calculator to estimate damages, but you may find that not all of its sections fit your circumstances.
Need more help? We’d love to hear from you.