(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.