Courts are cracking down on serial lawsuits, and the result is good news for employers.
A former employee who sues and then loses his case can’t keep coming up with new claims to base new lawsuits on. If the new claims are based on the same set of facts—even if they involve an entirely different legal angle—courts are ruling the claims should have been brought together. They’re saying employees get just one bite at the apple.
Recent case: Chandrashekhar Thanedar, who is of Indian descent, worked as finance director for Time Warner Cable Houston. He applied for a promotion, but Time Warner hired someone from outside the company instead.
Then Thanedar received a poor evaluation: Time Warner said his performance deteriorated due to poor with his subordinates. Eventually, he was fired.
Thanedar sued, alleging discrimination based on his Indian ancestry.
A federal court dismissed his lawsuit, and Thanedar fired back with additional claims involving alleged whistle-blowing and Texas Payday Law violation. The court tossed out the case, reasoning that the lawsuit was based on the same set of facts as the earlier discrimination claim.
On appeal, the 5th Circuit agreed. (Thanedar v. Time Warner Cable Houston, No. 08-20734, 5th Cir., 2009)
Final note: Some claims may still be brought separately. For example, filing for workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits won’t preclude a discrimination lawsuit, even though the claims may be based on the same event.
- Train employees to avoid pestering workers who file lawsuits or in-house complaints
- Develop, implement and publicize policies that encourage employees to report harassment
- Consistent discipline: Your best defense against firing bias
- 2009: the year of the shipshape worker?
- Handling workplace religious discrimination and harassment