Former Employee Compelled to Answer Discovery Requests in Employment Law Case Filed in Federal Court Sitting in Georgia

In an Atlanta employment case, both the plaintiff and the defendant have certain responsibilities. One of the plaintiff’s responsibilities is to answer, as fully, thoroughly, and honestly as possible, any legitimate requests for discovery promulgated by the defendant. This typically includes the names of potential witnesses, a description of the damages claimed by the plaintiff, and factual information such as the plaintiff’s employment history.

While defendant employers do sometimes ask for more information than they are entitled to, it is the court’s job to “reign them in,” so to speak, if and when the plaintiff files an objection. If an objection is not timely made, the plaintiff will likely be compelled to answer the requests, even if they are arguably overbroad. Lawsuits in federal court are placed on a fairly rigid pre-trial discovery deadline, and failure to provide appropriate responses within the time ordered by the court can, ultimately, cause the plaintiff’s case to be dismissed and his or her legal rights to be forfeited.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division, the plaintiff was a former employee of the defendant city. After the plaintiff filed a lawsuit seeking to assert certain employment law claims, the defendant served interrogatories and requests for production of documents on the plaintiff. The plaintiff allegedly failed to answer these discovery requests in a timely and/or thorough manner despite multiple requests by the defendants that she do so, and the defendants filed a motion to compel. The motion was withdrawn, and an amended scheduling order was entering giving the plaintiff additional time in which to respond. After the new deadline had come and went, the defendant was granted permission to refile its motion to compel.

Decision of the Court

The court began by acknowledging that the defendant complained that the plaintiff had not verified her answers to discovery and that there were deficiencies in her answers to four interrogatories and three requests to produce documents. The plaintiff, in turn, had objected to one interrogatory and two production requests. Because of the amount of time that had passed between the defendant serving its requests and the time of the plaintiff’s objections thereto, the court held that the plaintiff’s objections were deemed waived under federal law and rules of procedure.

As to the defendant’s requests for more detail as to the damages claimed by the plaintiff, the court agreed that the plaintiff’s response was incomplete and evasive; thus the court granted the defendant’s motion to compel a more complete response to discovery regarding damages. The court likewise granted the defendant’s motion to compel a more responsive answer to its request regarding the names, addresses, and telephone number of individuals likely to possess discoverable information about the plaintiff’s claim. The court also ordered the plaintiff to provide additional information concerning her employment history.

The plaintiff was given 60 days in which to cure the deficiencies in her responses to the defendant’s discovery requests, with the court acknowledging that this was a longer-than-usual amount of time for discovery completion but noting that there seemed to be conflict as to whether or not the plaintiff was still represented by counsel.

Hire an Experienced Employment Law Attorney in Atlanta

If you believe that you may have a claim against a current or former employer for discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, or violation of wage and hour laws, you need to talk to a lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases. The knowledgeable Atlanta employment law attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert are here to help. Give us a call at 404-873-8048, and we will schedule an appointment for you to come in and tell us more about your situation.

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