Chalk one up for the good guys. In MacGlashan v. ABS Lincs KY, Inc. d/b/a Cumberland Hall Hospital, 2014-SC-000098-CL (to be published) the SCOKY (Supreme Court of Kentucky) made an important clarification in the law that establishes what an illegally fired health care worker can recover as damages in a civil action concerning violation of a Kentucky whistleblower law. In this case, the SCOKY determined “front pay” is recoverable by an illegally fired health care worker. During my explanation of remedies available in illegal firing cases my clients and potential clients frequently ask me, what is “front pay?” Front pay is the amount of money that will compensate an illegally fired employee for wages that would have been earned between the date the fired employee wins the court case and the date the employee is reinstated to the job that was lost. If reinstatement is not possible (usually because the employee would return to a nasty work environment), front pay is awarded from the date the employee wins the court case until a future date set by the court. The future date set by the court is established using principles of “equity.” For instance, the court may say it is fair to limit front pay to the date the fired employee finds another job.
Equally important, the SCOKY also seemed to conclusively establish that the catch-all remedy provision under Kentucky law, K.R.S. §446.070, applies to “damages” no matter if categorized as “legal” or “equitable.” If a defendant has to pay money to compensate for a loss, it is “damages” contemplated by the law.