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No free attorney if employee has legal skills

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Criminal defendants are entitled to a public defender, but that’s not true for employees trying to sue for discrimination. Courts won’t often pay for legal assistance if the employee can do the work herself.

Recent case: Regina Lloyd, who is a black legal assistant, claimed her boss treated her like a “second-class citizen” on account of her race, making her do tasks like watering his plants. Plus, Lloyd alleged he promoted one of her white male co-worker to a job she believed she should have received.

Lloyd sued, alleging race discrimination. She told the court she couldn’t find a lawyer willing to take on her employer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and requested a court-appointed attorney.

The court refused, reasoning that Lloyd was a highly qualified legal paraprofessional who could handle the case herself. (Lloyd v. Holder, et al., No. 11-CIV-3154, SD NY, 2012)

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