Here’s a happy ending to a case that could have made very bad law for employers.
A federal judge has rejected a former employee’s request for the court to seize an employer’s assets pending the outcome of the case.
Recent case: Shirley Hardin was fired from her job with a health department, where she had worked under a physician she accused of sex and national-origin discrimination.
When the doctor left the country to practice medicine overseas, she asked the court managing her discrimination lawsuit to issue an injunction freezing his assets. She was afraid she might win the case but not collect her damages.
The court rejected the request, reasoning that she could not prove she would be irreparably harmed even if the doctor did hide or spend his assets before she could win the lawsuit and demand payment. (Hardin v. Kateh, et al., No. 3:10-CV-260, WD NC, 2010)
Final note: It would set bad precedent if the court had granted Hardin’s request. Employers effectively would have been taken over by the court system while discrimination cases were pending. Fortunately, the court made clear that injunctions are only appropriate in those rare situations where real harm would result without court intervention. For example, courts hearing a pollution lawsuit can order corporations to stop doing things like discharging chemicals into a river because money would be an inadequate remedy for the potential harm.
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