In yesterday morning’s post, I indicated that people should be wary of drawing generalities from some recent decisions granting summary judgment for employers. Indeed, I went out of my way to note that each judge has their particular way of handling employment discrimination cases.
I also highlighted District Court Judge Christopher Droney for his statement in his chambers practices that:
in employment cases, for example, many summary judgment motions and motions to dismiss are being filed. He believes that most of these motions have merit and need to be considered by the court.
Of course, I could’ve also noted that just because Judge Droney believes that the motions need to be considered, that does not mean he will necessarily grant them.
So what does Judge Droney do yesterday afternoon? He issues a ruling denying, for the most part, an employer’s motion for summary judgment. Go figure.
The case, Spiotti v. Town of Wolcott, isn’t particularly novel for the issues it brings (police officer claims that she was discriminated against because she was a woman and that her supervisor allegedly told her that she was ineligible for certain positions because she was a "mother"). The court did grant summary judgment to the individual supervisors, on the grounds that the statute only allows for claims against employers — not individuals. But that issue is pretty well settled now.
So, my message from yesterday remains even clearer today: summary judgment is certainly not dead as a procedural tool in this district — but there is no hard and fast rule that it will be granted either. And employers who believe that filing for summary judgment is the best decision in each case are kidding themselves over whether its truly the best course of action.