Yes. If you have initiated an action against your former employer for violating your rights under the ADA, ADEA, Title VII, FMLA or most any other fair employment law, you have an obligation to mitigate your damages. In other words, the courts and their laws require you to take steps to remedy your unfortunate situation by attempting to earn money. In most cases, that means regularly and consistently applying for work, networking, starting or building a business, attending school, or a combination of those activities. It also means applying for unemployment insurance benefits.
In Wisconsin, employees are currently entitled to a maximum unemployment insurance benefit of $363 per week after a qualifying resignation or termination. If you successfully prosecute an action against a former employer for discrimination or wrongful termination, the court may order the employer to reinstate your employment and satisfy your back pay, less any unemployment insurance. In certain cases, the employer will be required to repay the unemployment insurance compensation fund directly. If a court finds that you did not take the appropriate steps to mitigate your damages, your remedies may be limited or eliminated completely, even if you prove your employer broke the law.
Besides helping you get back on your feet after a termination you believe was unwarranted, unfair, or illegal, you may be required to apply for and collect unemployment benefits in order to protect your entitlement to damages in a lawsuit against your former employer. If you have questions about appealing adverse unemployment determinations or the relationship between your complaint or lawsuit and your benefits, please contact me directly.
Attorney Nicholas M. McLeod is an associate attorney at Alan C. Olson & Associates, S.C. If you have questions about unemployment insurance, discrimination, wrongful termination, or other employment issues, please contact him at: [email protected]