National Employment Lawyers Association Applauds The Equal Remedies Act Of 2024

National Employment Lawyers Association Applauds The Equal Remedies Act Of 2024

As it appears on NELA’s website.

The act would eliminate statutory damage caps and enhance protections for workers in discrimination cases

For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrea Hansen
[email protected]

Stand Up For Workers Equal Remedies Act 2024

Concord, Calif. – May 8, 2024 – Today, in a significant milestone for workers’ rights, Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced the Equal Remedies Act of 2024. The proposed legislation calls for the elimination of statutory damage caps for employment discrimination in civil rights cases, and would modernize the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to allow those who experience age discrimination to pursue compensatory and punitive damages.

The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) applauds Representatives Bonamici and Scott and Senator Markey on this important piece of legislation and strongly supports the bill to ensure workers have meaningful access to justice when they experience illegal treatment in the workplace.

“Discrimination persists in the workplace for a lot of reasons, but these arbitrary caps that take away the jury’s role in deciding how employers who violate the law are held accountable are a significant factor,” said Linda Correia, immediate past president of NELA’s board of directors. “I have represented many workers who have been harmed by these caps and am grateful for Sen. Markey’s leadership, as well as that of Reps. Bonamici and Scott, on this bill to correct this injustice.”

Under current law, even when workers win, they lose. Workers who win employment discrimination cases cannot receive a jury’s full award for the harm they suffer because of an outdated and unfair provision found in the Civil Rights Act of 1991 that subjects workers to these arbitrary limits. Juries will often award plaintiffs damages well above the statutory caps for victims of discrimination, but a judge then must reduce that award, in many cases by more than 90%.

The limits depend on the number of employees within a workplace, but are often out of scale with the operations of the business itself; for example, damages awards in cases involving employers with more than 500 employees are generally capped at $300,000 regardless of the severity of the complaint. Most employers are capped at $50,000.

“Discrimination is way too cheap in this country,” said Mark Hanna, vice president of public policy for NELA’s board of directors. “These problems persist because there are no real penalties for employers that discriminate. If we want equal rights at work, discrimination should be expensive.”

“As a result of these laughably small penalties, companies regard discrimination as a fractional cost of business and are willing to take the risk of litigation instead of changing discriminatory employment practices.”

The introduction of the Equal Remedies Act of 2024 is the first time in nearly 20 years that damage caps have been discussed in a significant way. Former Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) introduced the Equal Remedies Act of 2007 to eliminate Title VII and ADA damage caps with co-sponsors including Sens. Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. However, since that time Congress has not addressed the harms caused by damage caps.

NELA looks forward to working in concert with both the House and the Senate to pass this vital legislation and expand remedies for tens of millions of workers.

More information about the Equal Remedies Act, its history, and its potential impact can be found at