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Prepare to go to trial even if employee represents herself

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Courts often have little patience for disorganized, incomprehensible lawsuits. Those cases are often filed by pro se litigants, who act as their own lawyers in court. Their rambling legal documents often make for difficult trials, so judges have frequently decided to toss them out.

But now the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals had told lower courts to rethink that approach. It said judges must carefully read the complaints. If they amount to “a short and plain statement” that puts the employer on notice, the case should proceed.

Recent case: Marcovous Williams rather inarticulately claimed she worked in a racially hostile environment because her supervisor falsely accused her of breaking work rules and exposed her breasts to Williams. The 8th Circuit said that was sufficient to put the employer on notice she was claiming racial hostility. (Williams v. Arkansas Department of Corrections, No. 11-1163, 8th Cir., 2011)

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