Employees who work in New York are protected by some of the most expansive anti-discrimination laws in the country. Now, the recently passed Senate Bill S6577 provides one more tool for victims of discrimination, allowing employees to pursue punitive damages against private employers.
What are punitive damages, and why do they matter?
Punitive damages are essentially punishment for wrongdoing, paid in the form of compensation from the defendant to the victim. The payment of punitive damages holds a determination of guilt attached, which can be comforting and healing for victims. They feel justified and heard when the judge deems such damages appropriate.
Punitive damages can also result in a substantial monetary award to the plaintiff. While other forms of damages are intended to make the victim whole (such as back pay, which compensates an employee for any earnings lost as a result of the discrimination), punitive damages are meant to send a message to the offender and to deter future violations.
What types of businesses does this law apply to?
This provision of Senate Bill S6577 applies only to “private employers”. In other words, it does not apply to state or public entities like government departments or boards.
Discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable. If you or someone you know has suffered discrimination at work, contact our office to speak with a lawyer today.