Title VII’s remedies and damage caps

Available relief

Title VII provides that a plaintiff who prevails in her claim is entitled to recover:

(1) equitable relief (court orders that come in the form of both declaratory and injunctive relief) that includes reinstatement and reinstatement plus promotion;
(2) actual damages including back pay, front pay, and other damages that are meant to compensate the plaintiff for any loss or injury stemming from the claim; and
(3) punitive damages.

The prevailing plaintiff may also recover attorneys’ fees. According to federal statute, a prevailing defendant may recover attorneys’ fees only upon showing that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless.

Damage caps

Title VII limits the combined amount of compensatory and punitive damages that may be awarded. This limitation is calculated base on the number of employees during 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, as follows:

  • $50,000 for 15-100 employees
  • $100,000 for 101-200 employees
  • $200,000 for 201-500 employees
  • $300,000 for 501 or more employees

These limits do not apply to front and back pay awards.