We are pleased that a Judge from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has today ordered and green-lighted what is essentially a trial (we call it a ‘hearing’ in the federal sector) on our client’s claims. As usual, the Agency tried to prevent the hearing from taking place by arguing there was no need for a hearing because our client could not win.
For the key claims, the Judge sided with our federal employment attorneys and our client, and now the Commission will hear the matter. We could still lose, but at least the matter will be tried in person, and we hope to win. This is a good development because the witnesses will not be able to hide behind written answers.
To those who do not know this area of law well, it might sound odd that we are pleased that our client has been given a chance to have a hearing so a Judge can observe witnesses and evaluate our client’s discrimination, harassment, and reprisal claims. But a hearing is not common in these cases as a general matter because of the proliferation over the past decades of the ‘summary judgment’ practice and the steep burden employees now must overcome to have these cases tried.
Summary judgment was originally developed to eliminate cases in which a legal problem meant recovery was impossible. That makes sense. Yet, we believe in the past decades the ‘summary judgment’ practice has regrettably become a way to erode the essential right to have matters heard in person by having matters tried on paper instead. Indeed, these days cases are often tried on paper rather than holding the potential wrongdoers to account before someone who can observe their behavior and testimony subject to cross examination, a bed rock principle of our judicial system.
At the end of the day, our legal system is what it is. Our federal employment attorneys think it is a pretty good system overall, especially compared to the systems in other countries. Still we wish certain changes would be made. We can hope to improve the system and we fight to do same.
One reason to be proud of our troops who fight for our country is because they are fighting for our rights as Americans to have our disputes adjudicated in a fair system. Genuine civil rights cases should tried in person, not on paper. The right to trial is a great American privilege, and we are proud to fight for it.