As I’ve lamented from my very first post, too often the press focuses on new cases that are brought without placing them in context. Yet every month, federal and state courts in Connecticut consider dozens of employment law cases that never make the headlines.
One such case is Jacobs v. Connecticut Community Technical Colleges, decided by the federal court a few weeks ago. In that case, an instructor at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, claimed that he was discriminated against based on his gender and sexual orientation.
But the court dealt with this matter on summary judgment in a fairly routine basis. From a legal perspective, there isn’t anything novel about the decision.
First, it found that sexual orientation claims are not covered by federal law — not a surprising development at all. Second, it found that many of his allegations were time-barred (each discrimination claim has a deadline by which it must be brought).
Third, it said that even on the remaining claims of discrimination and retaliation, the employee had not satisfied the “prima facie” case — the bare minimum that a plaintiff must show to get past this stage of the case. While he claimed that his teaching schedule was materially different from female faculty members, the court failed to see that and said that any differences could not be attributed to his gender.
So, if this case is so routine, why do I bring this up? Because the press tends to focus on the sensational cases.
But there are dozens of cases like this that occur all the time and they’re still time-consuming, tedious, and ultimately costly to the employer. Even cases like this one that, in the court’s view, don’t seem to have much merit, have to be litigated, briefed and fought. Employers that are ultimately in the right, may still have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees to get to that point.
And you’re not likely to see those points in the headlines.