8 PJI 4.4 | ADEA | FRONT PAY
You may determine and award separately a monetary amount equal to the present value of any future wages and benefits that [plaintiff] would reasonably have earned from [defendant] had [plaintiff] not [describe adverse employment action] for the period from the date of your verdict through a reasonable period of time in the future. From this figure you must subtract the amount of earnings and benefits [plaintiff] will receive from other employment during that time. [Plaintiff] has the burden of proving these damages by a preponderance of the evidence.
[If you find that [plaintiff] is entitled to recovery of future earnings from [defendant], then you must reduce any award by the amount of the expenses that [plaintiff] would have incurred in making those earnings.]
You must also reduce any award to its present value by considering the interest that [plaintiff] could earn on the amount of the award if [he/she] made a relatively risk-free investment. The reason you must make this reduction is because an award of an amount representing future loss of earnings is more valuable to [plaintiff] if [he/she] receives it today than if it were received at the time in the future when it would have been earned. It is more valuable because [plaintiff] can earn interest on it for the period of time between the date of the award and the date [he/she] would have earned the money. So you should decrease the amount of any award for loss of future earnings by the amount of interest that [plaintiff] can earn on that amount in the future.
[Add the following instruction if defendant claims “after-acquired evidence” of misconduct by the plaintiff:
[Defendant] contends that it would have made the same decision to [describe employment decision] [plaintiff] because of conduct that it discovered after it made the employment decision. Specifically, [defendant] claims that when it became aware of the [describe the after-discovered misconduct], it would have made the decision at that point had it not been made previously.
If [defendant] proves by a preponderance of the evidence that it would have made the same decision and would have [describe employment decision] [plaintiff] because of [describe after-discovered evidence], then you may not award [plaintiff] any amount for wages that would have been received from [defendant] in the future.]
Front pay may be awarded if reinstatement is not possible. In Maxfield v. Sinclair Int’l, 766 F.2d 788, 795-96 (3d Cir. 1985), the court rejected the defendant’s argument that an award of front pay is not permitted in an ADEA action, and discussed the role of a front pay award in the following passage:
Although this court has not yet spoken on whether an award of future lost earnings is precluded by the ADEA,... the line of cases we find most persuasive allows such an award. As Judge Weinfeld wrote in Koyen v. Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, 560 F. Supp. 1161, 1168 (S.D.N.Y. 1983), "To deny [authority to grant front pay] would defeat a purpose of the Act to make a victim of discrimination 'whole' and to restore him to the economic position he would have occupied but for the unlawful conduct of his employer."
Moreover, it is significant that whereas the FLSA has no provision for future damages, when Congress enacted the ADEA it added the following provision to the remedies taken from the FLSA:
In any action brought to enforce this chapter, the court shall have jurisdiction to grant such legal or equitable relief as may be appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this chapter, including without limitation judgments compelling employment, reinstatement or promotion, or enforcing the liability for amounts deemed to be unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation under this section.
29 U.S.C. § 626(b). The inclusion of equitable relief strengthens the conclusion that Congress intended victims of age discrimination to be made whole by restoring them to the position they would have been in had the discrimination never occurred.
Front pay, an award for future earnings, is sometimes needed to achieve that purpose. Ordinarily, an employee would be made whole by a backpay award coupled with an order for reinstatement. Reinstatement is the preferred remedy to avoid future lost earnings, but reinstatement may not be feasible in all cases. There may be no position available at the time of judgment or the relationship between the parties may have been so damaged by animosity that reinstatement is impracticable. In such circumstances, the remedial purpose of the statute would be thwarted and plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm if front pay were not available as an alternate remedy to reinstatement. Since reinstatement is an equitable remedy, it is the district court that should decide whether reinstatement is feasible. Of course the amount of damages available as front pay is a jury question. (Emphasis added).
Because front pay is essentially an equitable remedy in lieu of reinstatement, the plaintiff’s entitlement to front pay is an issue for the court, not the jury. But in Maxfield, supra, the court declared that once the court finds that reinstatement is not feasible, it is for the jury to determine the amount of “damages” available as front pay. Thus, it appears in the Third Circuit that the parties have the right to a jury trial to determine the amount of front pay — though this is not the case in actions brought under Title VII or Section 1981.
(Last Updated July 2019)
Congratulations! You're now booked up
on Pattern Jury Instruction 8 PJI 4.4
(US District Courts - 3rd Circuit)!
Please get the justice you deserve.