Almost always, a pro se plaintiff loses. Pro se describes a plaintiff who represents herself. Many folks are forced to represent themselves when issued a 90 day right-to-sue letter. Ninety days is very little time in which to find an employment lawyer. Most persons with a right-to-sue letter start by calling personal injury firms. It may take weeks before the potential plaintiff is referred to someone who practices employment law.

Arlice J. Randolph apparently could not find a lawyer. She filed suit herself. She succeeded where other pro se plaintiffs have failed. She survived a motion to dismiss her claims. The Eastern District of Texas rightly construed her claims liberally, because she is a pro se plaintiff. The court looked not just to the Complaint which she filed, but also her response to the motion to dismiss. See Randolph v. Pinecrest Retirement Communities, No. 15-CV-39, 2015 LEXIS 149660 (9/17/2015).  Ms. Randolph was fired when she brought a tape recorder to a meeting with HR. She placed it in the middle of the table where everyone could see it. An hour and a half into the meeting, the HR Director asked her why she was recording the meeting. Ms. Randolph, the Assistant Director of Nursing, explained she is hard of hearing and wanted to play back the recording later. She was 70 years old and was asking for an accommodation. She wanted to be sure she heard the HR guidance correctly. See decision here (account required).

But, the employer took umbrage at the recorder. After the meeting, the employer told her she could resign or be fired, because she brought the tape recorder to the meeting.

Employers are usually offended when an employee brings a tape recording device to a meeting. But, really, what is the harm? Some employees do want to be sure they hear the employer correctly. Ms. Randolph was fortunate. Almost always the pro se plaintiff loses at the motion to dismiss stage.