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Chapter 55     Entire Code

CHAPTER 55. ACTIONS, SUITS AND ARBITRATION; JUDICIAL SALE.

ARTICLE 7E. DUTY TO MITIGATE DAMAGES IN EMPLOYMENT CLAIMS.

§55-7E-1. Definitions.

In this article:

(a) "Back pay" means the wages that an employee would have earned, had the employee not suffered from an adverse employment action, from the time of the adverse employment action through the time of trial.

(b) "Front pay" means the wages that an employee would have earned, had the employee not suffered from an adverse employment action, from the time of trial through a future date.

§55-7E-2. Legislative findings and declaration of purpose.

(a) The Legislature finds that:

(1) Employees of this state are entitled to be free from unlawful discrimination, wrongful discharge and unlawful retaliation in the workplace. Employers are often confronted with difficult choices in the hiring, discipline, promotion, layoff and discharge of employees.

(2) The citizens and employers of this state are entitled to a legal system that provides adequate and reasonable compensation to those persons who have been subjected to unlawful employment actions, a legal system that is fair, predictable in its outcomes, and a legal system that functions within the mainstream of American jurisprudence.

(3) The goal of compensation remedies in employment law cases is to make the victim of unlawful workplace actions whole, including back pay; reinstatement or some amount of front pay in lieu of reinstatement; and under certain statutes, attorney's fees for the successful plaintiff.

(4) In West Virginia, the amount of damages recently awarded in statutory and common law employment cases have been inconsistent with established federal law and the law of surrounding states. This lack of uniformity in the law puts our state and its businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

(b) The purpose of this article is to provide a framework for adequate and reasonable compensation to those persons who have been subjected to an unlawful employment action, but to ensure that compensation does not far exceed the goal of making a wronged employee whole.

§55-7E-3. Statutory or common law employment claims; duty to mitigate damages.

(a) In any employment law cause of action against a current or former employer, regardless of whether the cause of action arises from a statutory right created by the Legislature or a cause of action arising under the common law of West Virginia, the plaintiff has an affirmative duty to mitigate past and future lost wages, regardless of whether the plaintiff can prove the defendant employer acted with malice or malicious intent, or in willful disregard of the plaintiff's rights. The malice exception to the duty to mitigate damages is abolished. Unmitigated or flat back pay and front pay awards are not an available remedy. Any award of back pay or front pay by a commission, court or jury shall be reduced by the amount of interim earnings or the amount earnable with reasonable diligence by the plaintiff. It is the defendant's burden to prove the lack of reasonable diligence.

(b) In any employment law claim or cause of action, the trial court shall make a preliminary ruling on the appropriateness of the remedy of reinstatement versus front pay if such remedies are sought by the plaintiff. If front pay is determined to be the appropriate remedy, the amount of front pay, if any, to be awarded shall be an issue for the trial judge to decide.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.


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