Pro se cases (i.e., for self) typically result in dismissal. These are lawsuits filed by a layperson on his/her own behalf – without a lawyer. I previously posted about a pro se lawsuit here. In another such case, Wynne v. Jubilee Academy, No. 19-CV-00739 (W.D. Tex.), the plaintiff filed the suit herself. Although Ms. Wynne prepared professional looking pleadings and even successfully sought to amend her Complaint, her case was dismissed. The employer filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted.
The plaintiff alleged she was fired in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, when she needed time off to care for a family member. Jubilee Academy was a charter school. The Department of Labor, Employment Standards Division, had issued a letter finding she had indeed been fired in violation of the FMLA. That is a rare event in itself. But, in court, a finding by an agency may or may not be admissible. Ms. Wynne tried to use that DOL notice as an exhibit, but the employer objected. The employer argued the finding was “conclusory.”
Ms. Wynne was fired seven days after requesting FMLA leave. That short span of time would suggest retaliatory intent. But, as with most pro se litigants, the plaintiff did not make her arguments on the merits clear. The court found that caring for her adult sister was not the sort of care protected by the FMLA. The court did not address the possibility that Ms. Wynne may have missed the statute of limitations. She was fired in August, 2016, but did not file suit until July, 2019. The court may have afforded the plaintiff substantial latitude since she was pro se.
As I have mentioned before, employment cases is one of these few areas of law where pro se litigants appear with some regularity. It can be difficult to find a lawyer willing to accept an employment case. Some pro se parties do prevail, at least for a time. But, unfortunately, this time, it was not to be.