Similar to protections against double jeopardy, civil law provides defendants protections against having to defend against the same claims more than once. For example, a plaintiff alleging sexual harassment claims against a defendant only has one chance to recover damages under such claims and cannot pursue the claims against the defendant in a different forum following the resolution of the initial claims. This was recently discussed by a federal court in New York, in a case in which the plaintiff filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against the defendant following the dismissal of her claims in state court. If you live or work in New York and were subjected to sexual harassment at work, it is critical to retain a New York sexual harassment attorney who will fight to help you recover damages.
Factual Background of the Case
Allegedly, the plaintiff was employed by the defendant school district as a teaching assistant. She stated that during the course of her employment, she was sexually harassed by a co-worker, but when she reported the harassment, the defendant terminated her, rather than address the behavior of her co-worker. She subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against the defendant asserting numerous claims, including claims that her co-worker engaged in sexual harassment, which created a hostile work environment, and a claim that she was subject to retaliation for engaging in whistleblower activities by reporting the harassment. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that res judicata precluded the plaintiff from pursuing claims for sexual harassment and retaliation.
Res Judicata Under New York Law
Under New York law, the doctrine of res judicata precludes a party from litigation in a subsequent action any issues that were actually litigated or could have been litigated in a prior action arising out of the same claims. In other words, a prior decision issued on the merits of a case is binding on all subsequent litigation arising between the parties arising out of the same facts, even if the subsequent action sets forth new theories or seeks different relief, as long as the claims in the second action were or could have been asserted in the first action.