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Court: No free lawyer unless case has real merit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

There is no constitutional right to a free attorney in employment dis­­crimination cases. Unless a so-called pro se litigant can show the court that his claim clearly has merit, he’ll have to serve as his own lawyer.

Recent case: Carlos worked for Madelaine Chocolate. The company temporarily shut down, terminating its employees. About a month later, Madelaine started up production again, and Carlos returned shortly after several others were rehired.

He sued, alleging that he and other employees of Dominican nationality were the last rehired, resulting in the loss of a week’s worth of wages. He asked the court to assign a free lawyer to help him present his case.

The court refused and tossed out the lawsuit, concluding that Carlos didn’t have a case. A short delay in rehiring isn’t grounds for a federal lawsuit. (Pena v. Madelaine Choco­­late, No. 10-CV-4067, SD NY, 2012)

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