Courts to serial litigants: Enough is enough! Lawsuit-happy employees may face fines

Some employees and applicants think that if they sue often enough, they’ll eventually end up collecting the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Fortunately, judges don’t like wasting valuable courtroom time on meritless cases. More and more, they are blocking efforts to file additional lawsuits by employees acting as their own lawyers.

Recent case: William Digianni has for years tried to become a New York state-certified teacher. However, he also claims to have a disability that makes it hard for him to pass the certification test without the help of a computer with spell-checking capabilities. Each time he has asked for the accommodation, he has been turned down.

In what had become an annual event, he recently filed yet another lawsuit against New York state and others involved in the testing process. This time, however, the federal judge considering the case warned Digianni that he was blocked from filing any other lawsuits without specific court approval. The judge also warned him that he would be zapped with mone­tary sanctions if he didn’t stop. (Digianni v. Pearson, et al., No. 09-CV-1760, ED NY, 2011)

Final note: While judges are cracking down, that doesn’t mean employers are free to use past litigation against former employers as a ban on hiring. Make sure no one involved in hiring excludes an applicant because of past lawsuits. Instead, focus on the applicant’s qualifications for the job and handle him like all other applicants.

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