Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Joe Seiner (South Carolina) has posted on SSRN his forthcoming piece in the Iowa Law Review: Punitive Damages, Due Process, and Employment Discrimination.
Here is the abstract:
The Supreme Court has failed to provide any substantive guidance on when punitive damages are appropriate in employment discrimination cases since it issued its seminal decision in Kolstad v. American Dental Association, 527 U.S. 526 (1999), over a decade ago. The Court has recently expanded its punitive damages jurisprudence in the high-profile decisions of Philip Morris v. Williams, 549 U.S. 346 (2007), and Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 128 S. Ct. 2605 (2008). While these cases dramatically alter the way exemplary relief is analyzed in civil cases, the extent to which these decisions apply in the workplace context remains unclear. Surprisingly, there has been no academic literature to date explaining how Philip Morris and Exxon impact punitive damages claims brought by employment discrimination plaintiffs. This Article seeks to fill that substantial void in the scholarship, looking specifically at the potential due process implications.
Navigating the recent Supreme Court cases, this Article proposes a uniform analytical framework for analyzing punitive damages in cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The model proposed in this Article provides a blueprint for the courts and litigants when considering whether punitive relief is appropriate in an employment discrimination case. If adopted, the model set forth in this Article would resolve much of the uncertainty which currently exists in the lower courts over how to apply the remedial provisions of Title VII—as interpreted through the confusing Kolstad decision—to employment discrimination claims. This Article explains how this proposed framework would bring much more efficiency to the judicial process, and help define the future of workplace punitive damages.
Interesting article on a topic that needs to be looked at by the courts. Joe's analysis and proposal do a good job of filling in this void in employment discrimination law.