Kolstad v. American Dental Association
- Case Date: 1/20/1999
- Project Name: Civil Justice Reform
On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 opinion that plaintiffs in a Title VII discrimination case are not automatically entitled to ask a jury for punitive damages; rather, the party must show that the employer's state of mind evidenced "malice" or a "reckless indifference" to the civil rights of the employee. The Court further ruled that in the context of punitive damages, employers can avoid being held vicariously liable for the discriminatory employment decisions of its managerial agents if those decisions are contrary to the employer's good faith efforts to comply with Title VII. On January 20, 1999, WLF filed a brief with the Court urging it to uphold a court of appeals decision that held that punitive damages cannot be sought automatically in Title VII discrimination cases unless the plaintiffs are able to prove the discriminatory conduct is particularly egregious.