NFIB: Supreme Court Correctly Limits Employer Liability

Date: April 28, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court affirms lower court’s decision on emotional distress damages

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 28, 2022) – The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) commends today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C. NFIB filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that damages for emotional distress are categorically unavailable for violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other statutes incorporating its remedies. The Court held that these statutes do not permit recovery of emotional distress damages for victims of discrimination.

“Today’s decision is good news for small businesses,” said Karen Harned, Executive Director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center. “Had the Court agreed with the petitioner’s theory, small businesses throughout the country would have faced liability for emotional distress without knowing these damages would be available, causing them great concern.”

The case concerned whether an award of compensatory damages for a violation of the anti-discrimination protections of Spending Clause statutes may include damages for emotional distress. NFIB filed the amicus brief with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, and the American Tort Reform Association.

The NFIB Small Business Legal Center protects the rights of small business owners in the nation’s courts. NFIB is currently active in more than 40 cases in federal and state courts across the country and in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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