Employers may be comforted by the fact that it is not easy for an age discrimination plaintiff to ever reach a jury. What with a heavy burden to show age animus, and the reasonable prospect of summary judgment being granted to the employer, only a handful of such cases ever reach the trial stage.
Don’t rest so easy -- a jury in Passaic County in New Jersey just awarded six former detectives a total of $2.7 million, including payment of $627,000 in legal fees. One “bright” spot, however – the judge reduced the jury’s award of punitive damages in the amount of $175,000 per plaintiff to $50,000 per. See John Petricks's report in NorthJersey.com.
The risks of a bad verdict are great if the case is not thrown out before trial. It is always cheaper to prevent such situations by proper training, having good policies in place, and knowing the basics of the various discrimination laws.