Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sex Discrimination in a Nutshell

The Law

The main statutory (law-based) protection against sex discrimination is under federal law and is found under what is commonly called “Title VII.” The Civil Rights Act (See: 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et. seq.) provides that it is unlawful for an employer (private employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, and labor organizations) to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or to otherwise discriminate against any individual because of such individual’s ...sex....” 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(a)(1). Sexual harassment is also prohibited, though it is not specifically mentioned under the statute. The United States Supreme Court in the case Meritor Savings Bank, FSB vs. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 67, 106 S.Ct. 2399 (1986), held sexual harassment was in fact, an element that can be implied to exist within the statute.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Beware of Filing a Discrimination Case pro se

The Civil Rights arena is a very complex one. It’s not an area of the law well suited for the unwary, nor is it where someone can truly compete without a lawyer. There’s just too much that the lay person is not going to know that is crucial to their case.

For example, most Plaintiffs who file a discrimination lawsuit pro se (unrepresented by counsel) fail to understand the vital role of the process of discovery. It can be difficult for a plaintiff to remain in court with their case even with a lawyer, but without doing proper discovery, the odds are pretty strong that your case is going to be tossed out of court on the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. This is a motion that says, in essence, that there isn’t a material issue of fact raised by the Plaintiff to be tried to the jury or the court. Thus, if the court decides there is no genuine, material issues of fact to be tried, it may issue a judgment for the Defendant, dismissing the case. (This often happens in these cases, even when represented by counsel.)