6 years is long enough: Are quick dismissals on the way following 7th Circuit’s rebuke?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employers may soon notice trial judges dismissing frivolous lawsuits sooner rather than later. It seems some of the judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals have taken to chastising trial judges who don’t move fast enough.

That could mean significant savings on legal fees if trial judges heed their brethren’s advice.

Recent case: Ahemed Milam and five other black male employees sued their employer, Dominick’s Finer Foods, alleging they had been the victims of race and sex discrimination.

They claimed two fellow produce clerks who are white and female got favorable treatment back in 2001 and 2002. They filed their lawsuit in 2003.

The basis for their claim? The two white clerks’ names didn’t appear on the produce schedule posted at the door. Since the black males had more seniority, they should have been able to bump the women from shifts for any hours that they wanted to work, as provided in their union contract. They said not posting the women’s names was discriminatory.

It took the trial court years to dismiss the case, and the legal fees kept mounting. When the men finally lost, they appealed.

That appeal netted a sharply worded opinion from the 7th Circuit, concluding that “this case should have been dismissed years ago.” They added that trial judges have a responsibility to save employers from mounting legal fees in cases that have little or no merit. (Milam, et al., v. Dominick’s Finer Foods, No. 09-1686, 7th Cir., 2009)

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