Odds Favor Employers in Discrimination Suits

July 16, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) ? Employers prevail in more than two-thirds of job discrimination suits in federal court ? and then win nearly half of the cases lost on appeal, according to a study of trial statistics.

Analysis of court records going back nine years shows that verdicts in favor of plaintiffs who allege job discrimination are overturned on appeal at rate of 44% of 266 appeals cases. That contrasts with an average rate of 33% for all 2,278 defendants in all other categories of appeals cases, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Trials on Trial

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In addition, these suits are less likely than other types of suits to win at trial in the first place. Less than a third (30%) of the 7,575 plaintiffs citing job discrimination that went to trial in US district court won their suits, compared to an average plaintiff win rate of 43% in all 57,878 civil trials.

In contrast, of the 1,000 plaintiffs who lost their trials, only 5.8% had their verdicts overturned on appeal, compared to the 12% recorded for all 5,100 appealing plaintiffs, according to the study based on data from the Administrative Office of the US Courts

The research, underwritten by two plaintiff side law firms, comprises suits brought under:

  • the Age Discrimination in Employment Act,
  • the Americans with Disabilities Act and
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,

The study also found that employers tended to beat the odds in all 12 federal circuit courts. The Fifth US Circuit Court, covering appeals in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, was hardest on plaintiffs in discrimination suits, overturning 14 of the 23 employee victories it reviewed and upholding 95.7% of the 163 employer verdicts that employees appealed.

The report is drawn from a larger study of federal appeals court behavior to be published in the University of Illinois Law Review. The employment-case analysis was underwritten by Cochran, Cherry, Givens & Smith, New York, and Mehri, Malkin & Ross based in Washington, D.C.