As published in the Harvard Law & Policy Review, Kevin M. Clermont & Stewart J. Schwab observed that from 1979-2006, plaintiffs bringing employment law matters (discrimination, wrongful termination, etc) in federal court won only 15% of the time. When paired with the observation that plaintiffs in non job-related matters won 51% of the time, that 15% figure is stunning. Questions as to why there is such an imbalance in employment law compared to other areas of law have been the focus of many journalists, lawyers and academics. But for attorneys who represent plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, there is one key factor worth focusing on: properly preparing a case to survive motions for dismissal, particularly summary judgement motions.
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Sanders v. Lee County School District, No. 10-3240 (8th Cir. 2012). An Arkansas jury found in favor of plaintiff Sharon Sanders on her Title VII claims of race discrimination and constructive discharge. The jury awarded $10,000 in compensatory damages for race discrimination, $60,825 in back and front pay damages for her constructive discharge, and $8,000 in punitive damages. After the verdict, the district court judge granted the School District’s motion under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to set aside the jury’s verdicts on constructive discharge and punitive damages. Sanders appealed the district court’s vacation of the jury’s verdicts to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals – the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and reinstated the jury’s findings.
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