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Court gives pro se litigant one more chance to make her case

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Don’t think that just because an employee can’t find an attorney to represent her, you’ll easily get a case dismissed.

When employees act as their own lawyers, courts try to give them a fair chance to make their case without benefit of counsel.

As the following case shows, that can include giving pro se plaintiffs detailed instructions on how to make a winning argument.

Recent case: In 2009, Michelle resolved in her favor an EEOC complaint against her employer. In 2011, she was called into her supervisor’s office to answer charges that she violated some workplace rules. As discipline, her shift changed, she was placed on probation and lost 10 vacation days.

Acting as her own lawyer, Michelle sued, alleging that the changes were in retaliation for winning the earlier case.

The employer asked the court to toss out the case because it contained very few specifics, especially on her claim that she had been punished more harshly than other employees.

The court dismissed the case—but with the proviso that Michelle could submit one more complaint. The judge then laid out step by step what she had to include, including a list of co-workers allegedly treated more favorably. (LeBarron v. Warren County Sheriff’s Office, No. 1:13-CV-1572, ND NY, 2015)

Final note: If you are served with a pro se complaint, treat it as you would any other lawsuit. Contact your attorney right away for assistance. Ignoring it may mean the employee wins a so-called default judgment.

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