Eighth Circuit Discusses Split Re Whether Lost Fringe Benefits May Be Awarded to Employment Discrimination Claimants

Per E.E.O.C. v. Dial Corp., 2006 WL 3332815 (8th Cir. Nov 17, 2006):

Dial also challenges the award of lost medical premiums, arguing the claimants should have been required to prove they incurred medical expenses. Our court has not decided whether out of pocket expenses are required before health care benefits can be awarded, see Tolan v. Levi Strauss & Co., 867 F.2d 467, 470 (8th Cir.1989), and other circuits are divided on the issue. In the view of the Fourth Circuit, Congress intended fringe benefits to be part of the monetary award compensating claimants for the discrimination they suffered. See Fariss v. Lynchberg Foundry, 769 F.2d 958, 965-66 (4th Cir.1985) (awarding medical benefits to widow of age discrimination victim without requiring proof of out of pocket medical insurance costs); see also Blackwell v. Sun Elec. Co., 696 F.2d 1176, 1185-86 (6th Cir.1983) (granting the amount of health care premiums to claimant as part of recovery); but see Galindo v. Stoody Co., 793 F.2d 1502,1517 (9th Cir.1986) (reimbursing only out of pocket expenses incurred to obtain health care).

Health care benefits are an important element of an employee's overall employment package, and Dial does not contest that it would have awarded claimants health care benefits had they been hired. The district court only required Dial to compensate the claimants for the amount of health care premiums that would have been part of their employment package had they not suffered discrimination. No reimbursement for health care costs incurred by uninsured claimants was awarded. The court's limited award was reasonable, for "[t]his insurance coverage, not the proceeds, is the benefit for which the employer must be held liable." Fariss, 769 F.2d at 965.


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