Labor & Employment

Damages awards reach nearly 10-year high in employment cases, new report shows

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A total of $1.17 billion in damages were awarded in 1,016 employment cases in 2021, representing the highest amount of damages in nearly a decade, according to a new report released in early August.

Lex Machina’s 2022 Employment Litigation Report, which was published Aug. 4, highlights trends in employment litigation in federal district and appellate courts. It focuses on the three-year period from 2019 to 2021, examining cases that were filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. reported on the report’s results Tuesday.

Among the highlights of its report, Lex Machina noted that 21,193 employment cases were filed in 2021. It cited the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in pointing out that this was the lowest number of cases of any year in the past decade. However, the legal analytics company also said there were slight increases in FMLA and ADA accommodation cases.

Lex Machina reported that from 2019 to 2021, the Southern District of New York was the most active district for employment case filings. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco was the most active circuit.

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Jesus Gilberto Bernal of the Central District of California heard the most employment cases during the three-year period.

Additional data in the 2022 Employment Litigation Report shows that 73% of employment cases in district courts settled between 2019 and 2021, while only 10% of claim defendants and 3% of claimants won.

In the appellate courts, appellees won in 51% of employment cases during the three-year period. Appellants won in 13% of cases, while 15% of cases settled.

In cases that were terminated, no retaliation was found in 3,890 cases, and no hostile work environment or harassment was found in 1,743 cases. Lex Machina reports that retaliation was found in 246 cases, and hostile work environment or harassment was found in 95 cases.

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