On May 27, 2008 the Supreme Court issued its opinion in CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries, 128 S.Ct. 1951 (2008). The Court held that plaintiffs may bring claims for race-based retaliation under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Race-based retaliation claims brought under Section 1981 have advantages over similar claims brought under Title VII.
Under Section 1981:
- Plaintiffs are not required to submit their claims for review by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- Employer are exposed to unlimited damages.
- The statute of limitations can be as long as four years.
- Both employers and individual employees can be named as defendants.
- Employers with fewer than fifteen employees can be held liable for damages.
Under Title VII:
- Plaintiffs must submit their claims for review by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and EEOC must issue a “Right to Sue” letter.
- Employers are exposed to a maximum of $300,000 in compensatory and/or punitive damages.
- The statute of limitation for filing a complaint with EEOC is generally 180 days.
- Only employers can be named as defendants.
- Employers with fewer than fifteen employees cannot be held liable for damages.
Bryan A. Chapman, Esquire