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Award Compensation Surges For Employment-Practice Liability Cases

Compiled By Deborah Austin Year 2000 marked a 44% jump in median jury awards for employment-practice liability lawsuits, indicates "Employment Practice Liability: Jury Award Trends and Statistics, 2001 Edition" by Jury Verdict Research. The Horsham, Pa.-based company maintains a nationwide database of plaintiff and defense verdicts. The media U.S. jury-award for employment-practice liability cases reached $218,000 in 2000, following medians at or near $150,000 in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Age-discrimination plaintiffs saw the largest median awards during a 1994-to-2000 span --$268,926 -- versus $150,000 for all employment-discrimination cases. Why the year-2000 jump? Early 1990s anti-discrimination legislation took nearly a decade to reach Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforcement and Supreme Court clarification, says Robert Hartwig, senior vice president and chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute, New York. Add to that heightened public awareness, hate-crime legislation and state courts' broadening of discrimination-liability scope. Another major catalyst: the rapidly changing workforce demographics of the past century. "Before, it was essentially an all-white-male workforce. Now it is a cornucopia of races, and two genders" -- and companies must adjust.

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