Sometimes it’s best to settle drawn-out cases

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in Firing,Human Resources

Some lawsuits seem to drag on forever, especially when an em­­ployee’s lawyers endlessly demand access to company documents. Settling those cases for a modest sum may be the best approach if l­itigation is taking over and HR is so busy responding to discovery requests it can’t get other work done.

Recent case: Tara worked as a driver for Con-Way Freight. When she was picked for a random drug test, she claimed she couldn’t produce a urine sample due to a “shy bladder” that kept her from urinating with an audience. She was fired for refusing the test.

Her resulting civil rights lawsuit generated reams of paperwork. Con-Way was ordered to produce more than 700 pages of documents right off the bat, and another 500 pages during discovery. Then Tara’s attorney sought even more records and asked to add defamation claims to the lawsuit.

The court OK’d the request over Con-Way’s objections and set a trial date for early 2014. (Jones v. Con-Way Freight, No. 3:12-CV-724, WD NC, 2013)

Final note: This case cried out for an early settlement. But what else could Con-Way have done to end this litigation? Much of the documentation concerned Tara’s alleged inability to urinate in the drug-testing cup. If, as she claims, Tara truly has a medical condition that prevented her from completing a urine test, perhaps Con-Way could have suggested a blood test instead, as a reasonable accommodation.

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