The $51.6 Million Verdict – Putting the Fear of God in Age Discrimination

If you are having a hard time getting decision-makers to focus on a single-plaintiff employment case, you might want to make copies of the verdict sheet in Braden v. Lockheed Martin Corp., decided earlier this year in federal court in Camden, N.J.

In that age discrimination lawsuit, involving a reduction in force that impacted Robert Braden, five of 110 employees with his title were terminated, and all of them were over 50. Braden, 66, had worked at Lockheed since 1995 and was not given any reason for his selection.

The jury awarded him $520,000 in lost earnings, $520,000 in emotional distress, $520,000 in liquidated damages under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and – hold your hat — $50,000,000 in punitive damages, after four days of trial and four hours of deliberation.  Guess who’s going to Disneyland?

Yes, the decision is under appeal, but that is no reason not to use it to get everyone’s attention – this is serious business, and potentially very expensive.

Michael Homans is a Labor & Employment attorney and founding partner of HomansPeck LLCFor more employment law updates, including news and links to important information pertaining to legal developments that may affect your business, subscribe to Michael’s blog, or follow him on Twitter @EmployLawUpdate.