Employment Law & DIY

March, 2019



Employment litigation is a specialty set apart from other fields of the law, such as personal injury, wills and trusts and family law.  It requires a unique set of legal skills, especially for of those of us who are employment trial lawyers who regularly appear in state and federal courts. 

I continue to be amazed at those individuals who attempt to litigate their employment claims themselves, called “pro se” or “self-represented.”  A recent case came to my attention of a plaintiff who thought he could handle his employment case himself, first at the Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities, (“CHRO”), then at the Superior Court, and when he lost there, at the Appellate Court.  John Mosby v. Board of Education of the City of Norwalk, 187 Conn.App. 771 (2019)(decided Feb. 5, 2019).

John Mosby filed a complaint alleging discrimination at the CHRO and received a release of jurisdiction allowing him to file his claim(s) in the Superior Court.

In Connecticut, a complaint must be served upon the defendant and then returned to court.

On May 27, 2016, Mosby delivered the complaint to be served on the defendant to a process server, who then served the defendant Board of Education on May 31, 2016.  The plaintiff’s complaint was then returned to court on June 13, 2016. 

In court, the defendant Board filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely.  The court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the complaint.

Under Connecticut statute 52-593a, a complaint is commenced if the complaint is delivered to the process server prior to the 90-day statute of limitations of receipt of the CHRO’s release of jurisdiction and the defendant is served within thirty days.  In Connecticut, “an action is commenced not when the writ is returned but when it is served upon the defendant.”  Rocco v. Garrison, 268 Conn. 541, 549 (2004). 

Here, the plaintiff, having received the release of jurisdiction from the CHRO on February 18, 2016, was required to commence his action by May 18, 2016.  His action would not have been lost if he had delivered the process to the process server by May 18, 2016.  However, the process server stated that he received the summons and complaint on May 27, 2016.

The Superior Court dismissed his action.  And the Appellate Court affirmed that judgment, effectively ending this lawsuit.

Unless you know a lot about plumbing and electricity, don’t attempt to do a bathroom renovation yourself.  Likewise, if you believe you have an employment issue, speak with a similar professional, an employment attorney.

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