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Plaintiffs face long odds in employment discrimination suits


A new study by the American Bar Foundation shows that plaintiff’s chances of winning in federal court are actually quite slim.    The article, “Individual Justice or Collective Legal Mobilization? Employment Discrimination Litigation in the Post Civil Rights United States,” published in the June 2010 issue of the  Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, studies employment discrimination cases filed in federal courts between 1987 and 2003. The study found that the overwhelming majority of employment cases are brought by a single plaintiff; while cases involving multiple plaintiffs, class actions and representation by the EEOC or a public interest law firm are rare. More than 40 percent of plaintiffs either have their cases dismissed or lose at summary judgment. The other half are likely to settle very early in the process. Only six ercent of those filing employment discrimination lawsuits in federal court go to trial, where their chances of winning are one in three.  What is not clear is how many of the plaintiffs in the cases were represented by lawyers.

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