United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION FOR REINSTATEMENT OR FRONT PAY AND
FOR PREJUDGMENT INTEREST
Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge
Ronald Gaul brought this action under the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act (ADEA) against the City of New Haven.
Following a jury verdict in his favor, plaintiff has moved
for reinstatement or, in the alternative, an award of front
pay, and for prejudgment interest (Doc. #93). I have
previously granted plaintiff's motion for an award of
attorney's fees and costs. See Gaul v. City of New
Haven, 2016 WL 2758251 (D. Conn. 2016).
ADEA confers on the courts a “broad grant of remedial
authority” with which district judges are encouraged to
“fashion remedies designed to ensure that victims of
age discrimination are made whole.” Banks v.
Travelers Companies, 180 F.3d 358, 364 (2d Cir. 1999).
Among the forms of equitable relief explicitly authorized by
the ADEA is reinstatement of a plaintiff's employment.
See Id. (citing 29 U.S.C. § 626(b)).
coupled with an award of back pay, may be a preferred remedy
because it “involve[s] the least amount of
uncertainty” and “reestablish[es] the prior
employment relationship between the parties and at the same
time assure[s] the plaintiff of employment free of
discrimination based on age.” Whittlesey v. Union
Carbide Corp., 742 F.2d 724, 728 (2d Cir. 1984).
Second Circuit has recognized, however, that reinstatement is
not always possible, because no position may be available or
because animosity may impede the resumption of a reasonable
employer-employee relationship. See Banks, 180 F.3d
at 364. In such situations, a district court may order
“a reasonable monetary award of front pay, that is, an
award of future lost earnings.” Ibid.
“In contrast to back pay, which is determined by the
jury in calculating the plaintiff's damages, an award of
front pay under the ADEA is exclusively within the
court's equitable discretion.” Ibid.
the City of New Haven has made no offer of reinstatement and
has objected that plaintiff could not be reinstated without
re-qualifying for the police academy as required under state
law. I understand the City's position to reflect
continuing hostility to plaintiff and the jury's verdict.
If the City respected the jury's verdict, I have no doubt
that the City would have undertaken every effort to make
plaintiff whole and without interposing procedural roadblocks
that would not now exist but for the fact the City chose to
discriminate against plaintiff because of his
age. To the
extent that the City seeks to hide behind the requirements of
state law, the City has done nothing to show why such
requirements should apply to a victim of the City's
discrimination and why it could not seek a waiver of any such
requirements in view that plaintiff would not be in the
position that he is in absent the City's unlawful
discrimination in violation of federal law.
the City's failure to offer to reinstate plaintiff, I am
not convinced that reinstatement is not possible or
infeasible in this situation. Indeed, rather than arguing
that reinstatement is not possible or infeasible, the City
faults plaintiff on grounds that he has “failed to
demonstrate that reinstatement is an inappropriate remedy
under the circumstances of this case, ” and the City
faults plaintiff's failure to show that “[t]here is
no realistic possibility that plaintiff would be exposed to
any animosity at the New Haven Police Academy if he sought
training in the next available class.” Doc. #96 at 4.
reinstatement is the preferred remedy under the law, and
because neither party has demonstrated that reinstatement is
infeasible here, I will grant the remedy of reinstatement.
See, e.g., Claudio v. Mattituck-Cutchogue Union
Free Sch. Dist., 2014 WL 1514235, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. 2014)
(finding plaintiff entitled to reinstatement despite
defendant's position that reinstatement was
inappropriate). As plaintiff testified at trial and as his
counsel reiterated in support of his motion, it has long been
plaintiff's dream to serve as a police officer for the
City of New Haven. Dreams do not always have value in
dollars. To the extent that my responsibility is to try to
make plaintiff whole for the harm that he suffered as a
result of the discrimination against him, it is appropriate
to require the City of New Haven to reinstate plaintiff to a
position with the New Haven Police Department and to require
that plaintiff be offered a position in the next New Haven
police academy training class.
provided that plaintiff continues to wish to serve as a New
Haven police officer, I will grant plaintiff reinstatement to
a position in the next officer training class at the New
Haven police academy. To the extent that the City believes
any requirement of state law must be satisfied before
plaintiff may commence the police academy, the City shall
fully and promptly advise and cooperate with plaintiff so
that he may timely meet each and every one of such
plaintiff opts not to be reinstated, however, I find that
plaintiff is not entitled to the alternate remedy of front
pay. Although plaintiff's motion seeks ten years of front
pay (Doc. #93 at 5), this claim runs contrary to
plaintiff's own pre-trial damages analysis that sought
only one year of front pay in the amount of $64, 377 (Doc.
#100 at 9). It appears that the amount of front pay requested
($64, 377) is based on plaintiff's expected salary for
this year if he had worked as a police officer. As disclosed
at the hearing on this motion, however, plaintiff has earned
through his employment with Roto-Rooter more money
than his police officer salary since the date of verdict last
April. Accordingly, there is no basis for the Court to award
front pay, because plaintiff has not established that he has
or will lose future earnings for the year since the date of
the jury's verdict in this case.
further claims that he should receive pension benefits. But
plaintiff has not adduced any evidence of what the pension
benefits should be, and he has not explained how any such
pension benefits should be offset by any benefits he has
received in connection with his other forms of employment.
Accordingly, there is no basis for the Court to enter a
compensatory award of pension benefits.
plaintiff claims pre-judgment interest, and the City agreed
at the hearing of this motion that an award of pre-judgment
interest would be appropriate. Most courts in the Second
Circuit calculate prejudgment interest by applying the rate
of interest provided in 28 U.S.C. § 1961. See,
e.g., Shorter v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Grp.,
Inc., 2005 WL 2234507, at *7 (D. Conn. 2005). Section
1961 states, in relevant part, that “interest shall be
calculated . . . at a rate equal to the weekly average 1-year
constant maturity Treasury yield, as published by the Board
of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, for the calendar
week preceding the date of the judgment.” 28 U.S.C.
calculation of prejudgment interest involves three steps: (1)
plaintiff's back pay award should be divided over the
appropriate time period (from the date of his termination
through the date of the judgment); (2) the rate of interest
referred to in § 1961 should be applied; and (3) the
interest should be compounded annually. See Joseph v.
HDMJ Rest., Inc., 970 F.Supp.2d 131, 152 (E.D.N.Y.
first step, plaintiff's back pay award of $64, 047.00 is
divided by 44 months (August 2012 through April 2016),
resulting in $1, 455.61 per month or $17, 467.36 per year in
back pay. At step two, the relevant rate of interest for the
calendar week preceding the date of the judgment is 0.55%.
See Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
(historical data for April 8, 2016). Applying this interest
rate and compounding the interest annually ...