United States v. Burke, 504 U.S. 229, 11 (1992)

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Cite as: 504 U. S. 229 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

438 (1991) (collecting cases). An employee wrongfully discharged on the basis of sex thus may recover only an amount equal to the wages the employee would have earned from the date of discharge to the date of reinstatement, along with lost fringe benefits such as vacation pay and pension benefits; 9 similarly, an employee wrongfully denied a promotion on the basis of sex, or, as in this case, wrongfully discriminated against in salary on the basis of sex, may recover only the differential between the appropriate pay and actual pay for services performed, as well as lost benefits.

The Court previously has observed that Title VII focuses on "legal injuries of an economic character," see Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U. S. 405, 418 (1975), consisting specifically of the unlawful deprivation of full wages earned or due for services performed, or the unlawful deprivation of the opportunity to earn wages through wrongful termination. The remedy, correspondingly, consists of restoring victims, through backpay awards and injunctive relief, to the wage and employment positions they would have occupied absent the unlawful discrimination. See id., at 421 (citing 118 Cong. Rec. 7168 (1972)). Nothing in this remedial scheme purports to recompense a Title VII plaintiff for any of the other traditional harms associated with personal injury, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, harm to reputation, or other consequential damages (e. g., a ruined credit rating). See Walker v. Ford Motor Co., 684 F. 2d 1355, 1364-1365, n. 16 (CA11 1982).

No doubt discrimination could constitute a "personal injury" for purposes of 104(a)(2) if the relevant cause of action evidenced a tort-like conception of injury and remedy. Cf. Curtis v. Loether, 415 U. S., at 195-196, n. 10 (noting that "under the logic of the common law development of a law of

9 Some courts have allowed Title VII plaintiffs who were wrongfully discharged and for whom reinstatement was not feasible to recover "front pay" or future lost earnings. See, e. g., Shore v. Federal Express Corp., 777 F. 2d 1155, 1158-1160 (CA6 1985).

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