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Pair of Unsuccessful New Jersey Discrimination Lawsuits Highlight the High Risks of Proceeding Without an Attorney

question mark figureIf you’ve been a victim of workplace discrimination or harassment, there may be many things that may occur to you as responses to the harm you’ve suffered. One of these responses should not be to attempt to take on your employer in court and pursue litigation on your own. While you doubtlessly understand the facts of your case and how the illegal conduct harmed you, there is much more to pursuing a discrimination or harassment action than just those things. It is this “more” where having an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney on your side can be enormously valuable to you and your case.

A couple of recent federal cases demonstrate this truth in clear and unfortunate detail. In one case, Hatem was a dockworker at a dairy. According to Hatem, he suffered frequent and severe harassment based upon his heritage and religion. Hatem, who was a Palestinian and a Muslim, allegedly received taunts calling him a terrorist, quizzing him regarding the location of his camel, and questioning why he went by the western nickname of “Freddie.” This harassment came not only from co-workers but from a supervisor as well, allegedly.

Hatem launched a religious and national origin discrimination lawsuit under Title VII. Hatem, however, decided to proceed without a lawyer. The dockworker never had the chance to prove that the discrimination he suffered met the standard for liability under Title VII. In fact, he never made it to trial. Why? He never managed to complete properly the process of serving notice of the lawsuit against his employer.

Properly serving a defendant with notice of a lawsuit and providing the court with proof of “service of process” is one of the many procedural steps you must complete, or else your opponent can legally seek and obtain a dismissal. Since the dockworker didn’t do this with regard to the dairy corporation, that resulted in a dismissal against that defendant. Since Title VII does not impose liability against individuals, that knocked out the rest of the defendants in Hatem’s case. Regardless of the strength of the facts on his side, the dockworker’s failure regarding service stopped his entire case in its tracks.

Jameson, a former employee of the FBI, decided to take on his former employer due to the employment discrimination he allegedly suffered at work. Like Hatem, Jameson decided to handle his case without an attorney. As with Hatem, Jameson’s complaint also resulted in a dismissal.

What stymied Jameson and his case? As with Hatem, it was not factual shortcomings but instead a failure to follow the procedural rules required of all civil action plaintiffs. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure actually make many technical demands of litigants, some of which might seem obscure to a layperson. For example, Rule 10(b) requires litigants to “state claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.” Rule 10(b) was Jameson’s undoing. His complaint was 12 pages long and contained no numbered paragraphs.

The complaint also suffered from a lack of clarity, since the judge concluded that, despite the court’s best efforts, she could not interpret “what claims are being asserted and what facts relate to each claim.”

Without a doubt, you know much about your discrimination case and how your employer wronged you in terms of illegal discriminatory conduct. Still, no matter how sophisticated you might be in your field, the chances are high that there are many things related to the procedural rules of pursuing civil litigation that you don’t know and that can unravel your case before you even get to trial. Don’t let that happen. The knowledgeable New Jersey nationality discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates have been helping their clients put forward strong and persuasive discrimination cases for many years. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation. Talk to one of our attorneys right away to find out how we can help you seek justice.

More blog posts:

Teacher of Palestinian Origin Allowed to Pursue Title VII Discrimination Case Against New Jersey School, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Sept. 27, 2017

Sometimes Even a Supervisor’s Single Racial Slur Can Be Enough in a Discrimination or Harassment Case, Third Circuit Rules, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, July 21, 2017

Photo Credit: 3dman_eu, [CC0 License], via Pixabay

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