Front Pay vs. Back Pay in Employment Law Cases

By Gregory Thyberg on December 10, 2020


stack of bank statements and financial documentsf you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job or have been the victim of employer retaliation, it’s important to speak with a wage and hour attorney about your case. You may be entitled to front pay or back pay from your employer as legal damages.

Attorney Gregory A. Thyberg has helped numerous clients throughout the greater Sacramento, CA, area receive front pay and back pay in employment lawsuits. Let’s go over the basics of front pay and back pay so you understand the important roles that each play in workplace litigation.

About Back Pay

Bay pay is a term you’re likely more familiar with. Back pay is used to refer to any wages, salary, or other employment benefits that an employee has been denied. This is common in workplace discrimination and retaliation cases.

Here is an example of back pay. Say that an employee was forced to accept a salary cut and that their employer imposed this pay cut as a retaliatory measure. Back pay may be sought in order to recover the wages that an employee would have earned if they did not have their wages reduced.

About Front Pay

Front pay differs from back pay, and is not as common. Front pay is an equitable remedy that compensates employees for the future earnings they would have received had it not been for their employer’s activity.

Here is an example of front pay. Say that an employee faced a hostile working environment. The toxic climate on the job was so bad that the employee was forced to quit. In a discrimination lawsuit, front pay would be sought to cover the lost earnings the employee would have received if they were able to continue in the same job.

How Are they Different?

When discussing front pay and back pay with clients, they find it difficult to distinguish between front pay and back pay. The team at our Sacramento law office would like to focus on one of the crucial differences between front pay and back pay:

  • With back pay, it is still possible to reinstate an employee with the same title or position
  • With front pay, the employee may not wish to be reinstated because of the inhospitable working environment, or because the position is no longer available for reinstatement

How Back Pay Is Calculated

To calculate back pay, it’s possible to look an employee’s wages, pay stubs, or other financial materials to calculate how much they would have earned from their employer. This is relatively straightforward.

How Front Pay Is Calculated

Calculating front pay is not as straightforward as calculating back pay. Since the formula is not so precise, the amount is often determined by the judge given the nature of the case and line of work. The court may also consider additional factors, such as the age of the employee, the length of time the employee spent with the employer, and the amount of time it may take for the employee to find comparable work.

Contact an Employment Law Attorney

To learn more about front pay, back pay, and other matters related to workplace lawsuits, we encourage you to contact our employment law office online or to call attorney Gregory A. Thyberg in Sacramento at (916) 204-9173.

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