A Standard for Punitive Damages Under Title VII
43 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2014
Date Written: 1994
This article proposes a new standard for punitive damages under Title VII: punitive damages should be presumptively appropriate in all cases in which the defendant has intentionally discriminated. To avoid the imposition of punitive damages, the defendant should bear the burden of persuasion to show that she acted reasonably and in good faith. This standard comports with related law, is more analytically sound, and will lead to more uniform results than the standards the courts presently use.
This article examines the meanings of “intent to discriminate,” “malice,” and “reckless indifference” in analogous areas of law to suggest the approach stated above to the problem of defining a rational standard for punitive damages under Title VII. Section II of the article examines the theories of discrimination and burdens of proof under Title VII, as well as the background, passage, and provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Section III discusses the states of mind required by Title VII and its amendments and then relates these to the states of mind required in analogous and related areas of law. Criminal law is used as an analogous area of law to construct a model, and the related areas of law discussed are sections 1981 and 1983 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Section IV proposes the standard for punitive damages under Title VII, and section V concludes.
Keywords: Punitive Damages, Title VII, Discrimination, Civil Rights Act of 1991
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