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EEOC Complaints: Damages Awards for Pain and Suffering Escalating

The $300,000 cap on compensatory damages was created two decades ago and has been consistently devalued by inflation. Congress retains the sole authority to increase the statutory cap and must do so by legislative mandate. The EEOC however, has hedged against Congressional reticence to increase the cap by awarding progressively higher damages awards for pain and suffering (compensatory damages).

In just the past two years the Commission issued a significant number of decisions that dramatically increased non-pecuniary (emotional distress) damages awards. In only four years, the Commission issued more than half of the 24 decisions that awarded $150,000 or more for non-pecuniary damages.

Recent Decisions evidencing the trend towoard higher damages awards for pain and suffering include:

Fonda-Wall v. Department of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0720060035 (July 29,
2009)(The Commission increased an Administrative Judge’s award of emotional
distress damages from $150,000 to $200,000).

Padilla v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 0120090062 (September 21,
2010)(The EEOC increased an Administrative Judge’s award of $15,000
emotional distress award to $165,000)

Brown-Fleming v. Dep’t of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120082667 (October 28,
2010)(The EEOC increased a Final Agency Decision award of $40,000 in
emotional distress to $150,000).

Lopez-Rosende v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 0120102789 (November
30, 2010)(EEOC increased an Administrative Judge’s award of $35,000 for
emotional distress to $150,000).

Chastain v. Department of the Navy, EEOC Appeal No. 0120102409 (November,
17, 2010) request for reconsideration denied, EEOC Request No. 0520110240
(March 31, 2011)(Commission increased an Administrative Judge’s award of
$15,000 to $115,000 for emotional distress).

Gray v. Department of Interior, EEOC Appeal No. 0120072136 (July 24,
2009). (EEOC increased an FAD award of $10,000 for emotional distress to
$100,000 and added a $6,100 tax enhancement on back pay).

Conrad v. Department of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120090690 (April 9,
2010), request for reconsideration denied EEOC Request No. 0520100327 (February
4, 2011)(Commission increased a Final Agency Decision award of $40,000 for


emotional distress damages to $100,000).

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