The Federal court gamble E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

Newly analyzed data from federal court records show that workers bringing employment discrimination lawsuits increasingly fare poorly in the federal courts, according to a groundbreaking report published by the Harvard Law & Policy Review. “We are pleased to release this significant new study that raises serious questions about the administration of justice,” ACS Executive Director Lisa Brown said in a press release.

“We look forward to a robust debate about these important findings.” Studying data from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, authors Stewart J. Schwab, dean of the Cornell Law School, and Kevin M. Cler-mont, law professor at the Cornell Law School, find that “the federal courts disfavor employment discrimination plaintiffs, who are now forswearing use of those courts.”

The authors conclude that they have “unearthed an anti-plaintiff effect that is troublesome.” As a result of the likelihood of unfavorable rulings in employment discrimination cases, more employees are declining to bring actions in federal court. Over a seven year period, 1999-2007, there has been a drop of 37 percent in the number of cases brought by plaintiffs. Employment cases tend to fare much worse than other types of cases that are filed.

According to researchers, between 1979 and 2006 the win rate for plaintiffs in job discrimination cases in the federal court system was 15 percent, in contrast to 51 percent for non job-related cases. Employment discrimination plaintiffs are not likely to experience any greater success at the appeals court level.

Data reveal that plaintiffs who lose at trial achieve reversals in less than nine percent of their cases. In contrast, defendants who lose at the trial court level are granted reversals in 41 percent of their cases. The conclusion the authors suggest is the notion that plaintiffs’ lawyers may be recognizing their low chances for success in federal court and may be less inclined to venture into the court system.


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