Silence of the Litigants

This morning, The New Haven Register reported the story of a man who claimed employment discrimination against McDonald’s. He contended he wasn’t hired because of his size.

I’m not going to comment on the specifics of the case, because I just don’t know them.

What did come out in this case, as it does in so many others, is the settlement has been sealed. To quote the attorney for the plaintiff in The Register, “This matter has been resolved amicably, and without further litigation. The terms of the settlement are confidential, and both parties are prohibited from discussing the terms of the settlement.

It seems to me, and I’m certainly not a lawyer, that settling charges of discrimination without revealing the settlement shortchanges the rest of us who might benefit from hearing about the actual practices of the defendant. Did McDonald’s discriminate? Did the plaintiff fold under overwhelming odds? Are there others, under similar circumstances, who might benefit by knowing what went on and who got what?

Isn’t the press being used when litigants are willing to talk only until they get what they want?

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