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Employee is her own lawyer? You can pursue sanctions

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When disgruntled applicants or former employees sue employers, they sometimes represent themselves in court. Even though such cases may lack merit, that doesn’t mean they won’t wind up costing employers big bucks to defend.

But employers have a way to dissuade such pro se litigants from pursuing frivolous lawsuits. Talk to your attorneys about a request for sanctions. Courts are increasingly willing to zap pro se litigants with fines if they don’t play by the established rules.

Recent case: Brenda Collins represented herself in a lawsuit and scheduled a deposition. She then canceled it, but didn’t let the company know. That cost the employer money and time, so it asked the court to fine Collins.

The court did, and told her to pay the fine or have her lawsuit dismissed. (Collins v. Tiaa-Cref, et al., No. 3:06-CV-304, WD NC, 2009)

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