What Are Back Pay & Front Pay?


What Is the Difference Between Front & Back Pay?

When an employee wins a lawsuit against their current or former employer, there are several different types of damages or “equitable remedies” that can be levied against the employer.

In a lawsuit regarding wrongful termination, retaliation, or a related matter, two important types of damages are often key:

  • Front pay
  • And back pay

Have more questions regarding front pay or back pay? Contact Polaris Law Group and request a free consultation today.

What Is Front Pay Compensation?

Front pay is awarded in certain employment law claims when a wrongful termination, act of retaliation, or another violation of the employee’s rights has occurred. The underlying intention of front pay is to compensate the employee in a manner such that the violation never occurred.

Typically, successful plaintiffs will win front pay when they cannot be reinstated at their jobs – either because their position was filled by someone else in the interim, or because the whole position was eliminated. Front pay can also be offered to an employee when their job is available, but undesirable due to “bad blood” or hostility with their employer.

What Is Back Pay Compensation?

Although “back pay” sounds like it would contrast with front pay, they are actually not too dissimilar, although there are key differences. Back pay is compensation awarded to an employee for the wages they would have earned if they were not fired.

Typically, the amount of back pay awarded is calculated based upon the date of the employee’s termination and when the court issued a judgment. There is a potential drawback to back pay, depending upon the employee’s actual relationship with their employer.

If back pay is awarded to the employee, the employer does not have to pay it if the employee accepts an unconditional offer for reinstatement to their former or a similar position. This can be problematic if the court doesn’t recognize hostility between the employee and employer, and does not provide front pay instead.

Do You Have an Employment Law Claim? Let Our Experienced Team Help.

For more than 25 years, Polaris Law Group has helped employees in California earn fair and just compensation from their employers after their rights were violated at work. If you need to hold an employer accountable for mistreating you, reach out to our firm to schedule a free case evaluation.

Get in touch with Polaris Law Group and schedule your free initial case evaluation by calling (888) 796-4010 or by filling out our online contact form.