Don’t even think about ignoring an employee lawsuit. If you don’t hire an attorney and present the court with a specific defense, the judge will give the employee an automatic win and figure out what damages you must pay.
And you certainly won’t be able to ignore the sheriff who comes to collect what the court said you owe the employee.
Recent case: The Sawmill Saloon fired Candi Stavenger from her job as a bartender. She claimed that her supervisor made negative comments about her pregnancy and fired her because she was pregnant.
The company sent the court a three-line written statement saying the allegations were false. It did nothing else. The judge ordered the company to appear in court, but it ignored the order. As a result, the court found that the Sawmill Saloon had discriminated against Stavenger.
Then it calculated the damages. First, it said Stavenger should get $10,456 in back pay, another $15,000 in lost future earnings and $10,000 for emotional distress Then, because the Minnesota Human Rights Act allows courts to assess additional penalties, the court doubled Stavenger’s damages. It also awarded her $15,000 in attorneys’ fees.
The Sawmill Saloon’s total tab for ignoring the lawsuit? $85,912. (Stavenger v. Jay Ryan Enterprises, No. 07-3514, DC MN, 2008)
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- Memo to staff: Put up with those you dislike
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