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Maryland Federal Court Crackdown On Employer Discovery Abuses

Posted on July 14, 2012 in
The Maryland federal court has signaled a willingness to crack down on discovery abuses by employers. Discovery is an essential part of the litigation process.  Often successful discovery can lead to the resolution of a dispute without the need to go to trial or prevailing on summary judgment.  For too long, employers and companies have stonewalled employees in producing critical information necessary to prove employee claims. Recently, however, in large part through the leadership of Judge Paul Grimm, the Maryland federal court has begun to reduce these abuses in order to even the playing field. Two recent cases are good examples of this crackdown.  In EEOC v.  McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants, a deaf employee sued his employer for disability discrimination and retaliation, alleging that management demoted him and cut his hours because he complained about disability discrimination. http://md.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.20120702_0000814.DMD.htm/. The EEOC made numerous requests for information on his behalf, including requests to identify individuals who had knowledge of the facts relevant to the EEOC's claims or the employer's defenses, questions about the employer's organizational structure, and questions concerning the individuals involved in the personnel decisions.  The employer provided incomplete responses and promised documents that it took months to later produce.  The Court granted the employee's motion requiring the employer to produce most of the requested information in response to the EEOC's interrogatories. The Court invited the employee to file a motion for attorney fees to recover the fees incurred in having to fight to get what the employer was required to produce months earlier. In the second case, Kevin Lynn v. Monarch Recovery Mgmt., Inc., the claimant filed a motion to compel. http://dockets.justia.com/docket/maryland/mddce/1:2011cv02824/194790/. Plaintiff disputed Defendant's responses to nineteen discovery requests (including requests for information and requests for documents).  Out of those nineteen disputes, the court sided with the Plaintiff in all but eight of the disputes. Again, the Court ruled that the claimant was entitled to an award of expenses and fees incurred in making the motion to compel for those particular items. Employees unfortunately often in a "David vs. Goliath" battle to get necessary discovery from the offending employer. The Maryland federal court's recent decision is welcome news for leveling the playing field.

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