September 24, 2008
What are the Odds of Plaintiffs Winning Employment Discrimination Lawsuits?
Kevin Clermont and Steward Schwab's Employment Discrimination Plaintiffs in Federal Court: From Bad to Worse? reveals that, based on data from 1979 to 2006, plaintiffs who brought employment discrimination suits in federal district courts prevailed only 15 percent of the time, compared to 51 percent for non-employment related cases.
Why? As a practical matter there are two reasons. First, employers will settle out of court if there's a good chance they will lose. These "write the check" complaints factor in the legal merits, cost of litigation and bad publicity. If employers proceed to court, once the burden of proof has shifted to the plaintiffs, overcoming it by plaintiffs is fairly difficult in employment discrimination lawsuits. Good luck, for example, trying to find in Title VII single-plaintiff suits, cases were the plaintiff won. [JH]
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