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Courts losing patience with frivolous suits—and asking failed litigants to pay up

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

There’s a silver lining to the rising number of employment lawsuits: Courts are losing patience with applicants, employees and former employees who file discrimination lawsuits that have no basis in reality.

Recently, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals approved sanctions against such employees and their attorneys.

That should send shock waves through the legal community and make lawyers think twice before firing off a lawsuit every time a client is terminated, demoted or otherwise suffers harm.

Recent case: A group of 12 black employees sued their employer for alleged race discrimination. While some had arguable claims, most had no evidence to back up their allegations.

The trial court dismissed the clearly frivolous claims. Then it ordered those employees and their attorney to pay their employer’s legal fees and costs— to the tune of $660,000!

They appealed, but the 6th Circuit said the sanctions were appropriate, although it did order the lower court to calculate what each employee’s share of the legal bill should be. (Garner, et al., v. Cayuga County Juvenile Court, No. 07-3602, 6th Cir., 2009)

Final note:
Employers should expect far more lawsuits during the current economic crisis. Many of those will be frivolous. Hopefully, this decision will cut the number as lawyers see the risk. After all, no attorney takes a case to lose money. This case may also mean more cases will be settled early, for less money.

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