Class actions have long been a powerful weapon for plaintiffs in employment discrimination litigation. Through the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [FOOTNOTE 1], Congress gave employment discrimination plaintiffs additional ammunition for their arsenal: the right to recover compensatory and punitive damages and the right to a jury trial.
While the class action device and the ability to recover compensatory and punitive damages from a jury are each powerful weapons in their own right, the combination of the two can spell swift victory for plaintiffs and their attorneys. Indeed, the mere certification of an employment discrimination class action, where compensatory and punitive damages could easily climb into the tens of millions of dollars, often leave the employers with little choice but to raise the white flag and settle.
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