Discrimination Cases and Emotional Distress Damages: Implications of Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, August 24, 2022

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Course Materials

This CLE webinar will address the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller P.L.L.C. which held that damages for emotional distress are not recoverable in a private action for discrimination. The panel will discuss how this will likely affect future employment claims, particularly allegations of sex or disability discrimination, and the limitation on damages for both employers and employees.


The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller that emotional distress damages are not recoverable in private actions to enforce statutes authorized by the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Statutes authorized by the Spending Clause include:

  • Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination and harassment at educational institutions
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination in educational institutions
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which prohibits healthcare entities from discriminating based on race, sex, disability, or age

The Court held that the Spending Clause, which conditions receipt of federal funds on compliance with the statute, does not permit recovery of emotional distress damages because an emotional injury is not generally recoverable for breach of contract.

This ruling will be significant for colleges, universities, school districts, charter schools, and healthcare providers, most of whom are federal funding recipients. Students and patients can no longer recover emotional distress damages under these statutes, which historically have been a substantial portion of the damages sought in such actions.

While the decision is limited to Spending Clause antidiscrimination statutes, employment attorneys must consider the effect of this case, and future decisions, on discrimination claims.

Listen as our expert panel discusses the ramifications of the Cummings decision and best practices for pursuing discrimination claims under this new framework.



  1. Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller
    1. History
    2. Holding
      1. Limitation on emotional distress damages
    3. Dissent
    4. Takeaways
  2. Best practices


The panel will discuss these and other important topics:

  • What was the holding in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, and how is it limited?
  • How may the holding in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller affect future discrimination claims?
  • What are the best practices for bringing discrimination claims in the Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller framework?


Bernas, K. Maxwell
K. Maxwell Bernas


Mr. Bernas' legal practice is focused on the representation of management clients in matters related to labor and...  |  Read More

Turner, Sarah
Sarah N. Turner

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani

Ms. Turner's litigation experience includes defending employers in wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment,...  |  Read More

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