“Former Bloomberg correspondent drops pregnancy discrimination suit”

I saw this headline and thought, “Huh?” My first thinking–and I should have known better– was: she didn’t have a case and dropped it.


Source: Former Bloomberg Correspondent Drops Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

Here are a couple of relevant paragraphs:

A former Washington correspondent for Bloomberg has dropped a discrimination and retaliation suit that accused the company of illegally firing her after she took maternity leave.

Megan Hemmerlein sued Bloomberg in February. She claimed she was denied assignments once she became pregnant and was fired in retaliation for taking maternity leave. Last week, she filed papers in District of Columbia Superior Court dismissing the case.

Please notice that the headline says she “drops” the lawsuit. But the article says that “she filed papers…dismissing the case.” A “dismissal” is, I believe, actually a request to the judge to sign off on it, and in order to get a judge to agree to a dismissal, you have to have consent from both sides. I may be wrong there but this paragraph, especially the first sentence, which I’ve bolded, suggests I am not.

The court papers didn’t include details about how the case resolved. Hemmerlein’s lawyer, R. Scott Oswald of The Employment Law Group, declined to comment, as did a Bloomberg spokeswoman. Bloomberg’s lawyers at Jones Day did not return a request for comment.

And no one is commenting and the papers didn’t say how the case was resolved? That strongly suggests a settlement. As does this paragraph:

Bloomberg had yet to respond to the allegations in court. After the complaint was filed, Hemmerlein agreed several times to extend Bloomberg’s deadline to file an answer.

I do believe this means that immediately after Hemmerlein served Bloomberg with the complaint, the Bloomberg lawyers got in touch with Hemmerlein’s lawyers and said, “Let’s settle this without letting it go even further.” And it didn’t go further: Bloomberg didn’t even file an answer and was given extensions of time to answer.

I got into the dismissal itself (via the link The Legal Times provided, above) and read that Hemmerlein dismissed this case “with prejudice,” which means (Black’s Law Dictionary definition) “a dismissal, usu. after an adjudication on the merits, barring the plaintiff from prosecuting any later lawsuit on the same claim.” Since no answer was filed here, there was no “adjudication on the merits.” I’m pretty sure Hemmerlein would not have agreed to dismiss with prejudice if she hadn’t settled to her satisfaction.

To me, it sounds like the lawyers were talking and talking and coming up with numbers and rejecting numbers and nobody was threatening to take it further, because they were all still talking about settling. And Bloomberg lawyers (presumably the Bloomberg company has deep pockets to argue lawsuits) wouldn’t have begun settlement discussions even before answering if there hadn’t been merit in Hemmerlein’s lawsuit.

We will never hear the settlement amount, and we’ll never hear about Bloomberg taking any responsibility for this, even though, as I said above, we can guess there was some responsibility because if there hadn’t been, Bloomberg would have answered the complaint.

It sounds like they were admitting some wrongdoing and were willing to come up with money to make the entire story go away.

My opinion only. No, not even an opinion. It’s a guess.


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