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When disgruntled employees act as their own lawyers, patience may be your winning strategy

by on
in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

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)

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