Monday, February 4, 2013

Employee acts as own lawyer? Consider cutting your losses ...

Judges tend to bend over backward to help so-called pro se litigants?individuals who decide to represent themselves in court. That can spell trouble for employers, even if it?s almost certain the case has no merit and will eventually be tossed out. The court will probably give the plaintiff a chance to correct problems with his complaint and make his case.

Sometimes, an employer?s best bet is to settle for a small amount?or urge the former employee to find an attorney.

Recent case: William was fired when he failed a drug test following a workplace accident. He sued, and in a rambling complaint, alleged race discrimination. The judge dismissed some claims but gave William another chance to redo the complaint and clarify his grievances. Result: The employer had to spend even more time and money on defense. (Jones v. Lehigh Southwest Cement, No. 1:12-CV-0633, ED CA, 2012)

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