by John Gaal, Esq., Bond, Schoeneck & King, Syracuse and New York City
Employers continue to prevail in most New York discrimination cases, but litigation is taking longer. Those are among the key findings of Bond, Schoeneck & King’s recently published 2012 Study of Employment Discrimination Litigation in the Northern and Western Districts of New York.
This marks the third time the firm has compiled the bias litigation data. Bond’s first such study was issued in 2001, with a follow-up study in 2007.
This latest study reviews Northern and Western District cases from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2011. It compares those findings with 1991–2000 data in the original study, as well as with data for 2001–2011, and cumulative data for 1991–2011.
Employers win most of the time
This latest study shows that in the Northern and Western Districts defendants continued to prevail most of the time in cases that went to trial before a jury (more than 57% of the time in the 2007–2011 period, showing a slight decline over other periods).
Defendants prevailed by a much greater percentage in cases tried before a judge (87.5% of the time in 2007–2011).
Fewer cases actually made it to trial and, perhaps not surprisingly given the preceding numbers, of those that did go to trial, far fewer cases were tried before a judge.
While the percentage of cases that settled declined a bit in the 2007–2011 period, the percentage of cases disposed of by substantive motion actually increased.
In the 21 jury trials that were tried to verdict in the Northern and Western Districts between 2007 and 2011, plaintiffs prevailed nine times.
The average jury award was just under $295,000.
Types of claims
Race bias claims were the most common claims in litigation during the latest 2007–2011 period. In prior years, sex-based claims held that top spot. Disability claims—which have been increasing over the years—were the second most common claims.
The most significant increase in claims asserted was the general category of “employment discrimination,” which includes retaliation claims. Somewhat surprisingly, age claims were on the decline.
By comparison, race claims (followed by sex discrimination claims) were the most common claims filed by the EEOC and New York Division of Human Rights complainants for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 periods (the latest periods for which statistics were available).
As has been the case for all periods studied, Bond represented more defendants in employment discrimination litigation in the Northern and Western Districts of New York than any other law firm. From 2001 through 2011, it appeared in almost twice as many cases as the next most frequent defense law firm.
Litigation takes longer
The study reveals that the length of time it took for a case to go from filing to verdict after trial increased, and significantly.
In the Northern and Western Districts combined, a jury trial took an average of just over four years to conclude during the 2007–2011 period, compared to 2.2 years during the 1991–2000 period.
Bench trials took even longer, at more than 6½ years for the 2007–2011 period, compared to just under two years for the 1997–2000 period. Of course, given the relatively small number of bench trials, a lengthy delay in just one or two cases can skew these numbers.
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