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Weigh costs and benefits before seeking trial in federal rather than New York courts

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

In a case that shows trying to get a case into the federal system may backfire and wind up costing more for employers, a federal trial court has sent a lawsuit back to be heard by a state court.

Recent case: Samir is Egyptian and has worked as a banquet waiter at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City since 1987. He sued under the New York Executive Law, alleging that his employer had essentially conspired to get rid of all older minority waiters and replace them with young white men.

The hotel argued that since a union contract covers waiters, the case belonged in federal court.

The court disagreed and sent the case back to state court. Because Samir was arguing that managers had told the older waiters to “retire” and that the hotel wanted to “get rid of the old guys” including a 91-year-old waiter, the case turns on facts and not contract interpretation. Samir will get his day in state court. (Abdel-Mesih v. Waldorf-Astoria, No. 11-CV-5635, ED NY, 2013)

Final note: Always discuss with your attorney all the costs and potential benefits of any legal strategy, including decisions about which court might prove most advantageous. It takes lots of time and money to move a case to the federal system; it may not be worth the hassle.

Sometimes, the best course of action may actually be to settle a case if it’s possible to do so for relatively few dollars.

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