Friday, April 23, 2021

Court won't seal employment law case to hide from prospective employers

I don't usually cover District of Oregon case, but this one is pretty interesting. In Delplance v. Window Products, Inc., the plaintiff filed a lawsuit claiming that he was unlawfully terminated under the Equal Pay Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, and state laws. He settled the case.. but guess what? The case still appears on the public docket, and was subsequently copied all over the internet. 

Not official use.
The plaintiff asked the court to seal the entire case file, because "prospective employers have asked plaintiff about the case during several job interviews," and yet he can't discuss the case under the terms of the settlement agreement. Obviously, it is important for court cases to generally be available to the public so that citizens can "keep a watchful eye on the workings of public agencies." See, Nixon v. Warner Communications.

Courts therefore require a "compelling reason" to seal otherwise public records. Not surprisingly, the Court declined the invitation here:

Plaintiff’s request to seal this entire case along with all associated electronic records because potential employers’ knowledge of this lawsuit has caused them to ask difficult questions during interviews and made it hard for him to find work does not meet the “compelling reasons” standard. And plaintiff fails to cite any legal authority to suggest that it does.

The request was denied.  

HT: Court Refuses to Seal Case That Plaintiff Wanted to Hide from Potential Employers by Eugene Volokh. 

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