NY Courts are Not Sympathetic to Self-Represented Discrimination Plaintiffs

Many New Yorkers experience employment discrimination. If you are one of them, it is important to speak with an attorney who can assist you in asserting your legal rights. Many workers think they can handle a discrimination complaint on their own, only to discover the complexity of the law in this area can sabotage their case before it even begins.

Court Dismisses Disability Discrimination Case Over Missed Filing Deadline

For example, a federal judge in Manhattan recently dismissed a self-represented litigant's disability discrimination case against his former employer. What doomed the plaintiff's case here was not a lack of evidence, but a failure to follow certain procedural requirements for bringing a discrimination case to court. As the judge presiding over the case explained, the courts cannot give self-represented parties any leeway when it comes to complying with certain aspects of the law.

Here is what happened. The plaintiff suffered from some physical and mental impairments during his employment with the defendant. In his lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged his immediate supervisor at the defendant's business “constantly” harassed him as a result of his disabilities, telling him that he needed to “stay home” and collect Social Security disability benefits. Eventually, the plaintiff took disability leave and said the defendant fired him.

On its face, the plaintiff presented a plausible claim for disability discrimination. The problem is that he failed to first present his claims to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Before an employee can file an employment discrimination lawsuit in federal court, he must first go to the EEOC. The agency then conducts an investigation and can either take action against the offending employer or give the employee a “right to sue” letter.

Here, the plaintiff did file a charge with the EEOC and received a right to sue letter, but only with respect to his termination. According to the judge, the plaintiff did not notify the EEOC of “any harassment or ongoing discrimination that could reasonably lead to an investigation of a potential hostile work environment.” Therefore the plaintiff was barred from pursuing any disability discrimination claims based on his former supervisor's alleged harassment. As the judge explained, under New York law such allegations must be raised in an administrative charge “within 300 days of the alleged unlawful employment practice.” Since the employee missed this deadline, it was too late to save his lawsuit.

Get Help From a New York City Employment Discrimination Lawyer Today

Too many discrimination cases are tossed out of court due to missed deadlines or failure to properly notify the EEOC. No matter how sympathetic the judge may find a plaintiff, the law is the law, and rules governing a court's jurisdiction to hear a case are strictly interpreted. The fact that you are representing yourself and do not have an attorney is no excuse.

This is why you need to engage the services of an experienced New York employment attorney as soon as you have reason to believe you are the victim of workplace discrimination. Time is often not on your side and you need to assert your legal rights as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar today at (646) 760-6493 to speak with an attorney today about your discrimination case.