In employment litigation in federal court (let’s leave state court out of this discussion — it’s a whole different animal), filing a motion for summary judgment is seen by employers as their last, best chance to win a case before the matter is sent to a jury. After all, if the court grants the motion, a jury never sees the case and the case effectively ends (subject to an appeal).
Over the years, there have been various decisions that have suggested that summary judgments should be more of the exception rather than the rule. Nevertheless, summary judgment still remains a tool that employers have in their toolbox to defend against discrimination claims.
But besides the rules and the decisions that guide how courts should rule on such motions, who judges the matter also plays a role in the ultimate outcome. As discussed below, this is important for employers and in-house counsel to understand when litigating discrimination claims.
Two recent decisions by two Connecticut federal judges illustrate that point. In one case, Judge Vanessa Bryant granted an employer’s motion for summary judgment in a fairly short decision involving a Title VII claim . In another, Judge Christopher Droney denied an employer’s motion for summary judgment on the Title VII claims.