A frustrating side effect of the current economic downturn is a sharp increase in litigation. Terminated employees and disappointed applicants tend to sue.
At the same time, fewer law firms are willing to handle employment lawsuits they don’t think they have a good chance of winning.
The result: More and more employees and applicants are filing their own lawsuits and acting as their own attorneys.
Traditionally, courts allow these pro se litigants a great deal of latitude simply because they don’t have legal experience.
All is not lost for patient employers willing to take such cases one step at a time.
If the following case is any indication, courts are getting tired of the additional drag on their dockets and have begun dismissing lawsuits when it becomes clear a pro se litigant has no case.
Recent case: When HSBC Mortgage terminated Baijnath Agiwal, he sued the company and several other entities, alleging a long list of discrimination he had suffered while working there. He handled the litigation himself, just as he had in a previous case, which he lost.
HSBC Mortgage filed court requests for documents and a deposition, which Agiwal ignored. It then asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. The court agreed, citing Agiwal’s repeated attempts at litigation self-help without an underlying case.
The court said it—and HSBC Mortgage—had rightly run out of patience. (Agiwal v. HSBC Mortgage, No. 09-CV-4795, ED NY, 2010)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- New studies tarnish the image of color-blind and race-blind judges
- Records retention: What to keep, what to toss
- Feelings of exploitation, 'e-overtime' lead to rise in wage lawsuits
- Do former employees have the right to demand copies of their personnel files?