NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Employers Confronted By More Workers' Lawsuits, Escalating Awards

March 27, 2001

Employees are increasingly hauling companies into court on charges of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge and racial discrimination. Moreover, they are walking away with extraordinary sums of money, experts report.

  • More than 50 percent of employers have been sued by workers -- and legal experts expect to see more suits this year as layoffs mount and the economy slows.
  • The probability of a verdict favoring a plaintiff jumped from 49 percent in 1994 to 71 percent in 1999, according to a study by Jury Verdict Research.
  • The median compensatory award received by workers has soared from $127,500 in 1996 to $200,000 in 1999.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission obtained a total of $246 million in cash benefits for claimants in fiscal 2000 -- more than double the $118 million obtained in 1992.

Experts differ as to what is driving the rise. In the recent strong economy, some legal experts say, juries have resorted to higher awards in order to send a stronger message to employers. Others attribute some of the rise to workers' increasing awareness of employment law.

Source: Stephanie Armour, "Workers Win More Lawsuits, Awards," USA Today, March 27, 2001.

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