Court Ruling Opens Door for Lawsuits
Sometimes a victory is not a true victory. By ruling in favor of employers in a narrow 5-4 decision on May 29, the U.S. Supreme Court might actually trigger a new wave of frivolous employment discrimination lawsuits. The case involved determining the proper deadline for those who want to bring workplace discrimination charges. The Supreme Court held that the plaintiff waited too long to file her charge.
The court said that the solution to the plaintiff's problem is that she "should have filed an EEOC charge within 180 days after each allegedly discriminatory pay decision was made and communicated to her." So the court actually recommended that she should have filed 15 separate charges of discrimination over 19 years.
In granting this victory to employers, the Supreme Court has invited all disgruntled employees to line up at the EEOC's doorsteps claiming discrimination. Not only will we see an ever-increasing amount of discrimination lawsuits filed because of this decision, but the few tools employers have at their disposal to punish those plaintiffs who file frivolous claims will get even weaker.
This article appeared in the June 15, 2007 issue of The Portland Business Journal.