SLAPP DOWN: THE USE (AND ABUSE) OF ANTI-SLAPP MOTIONS TO STRIKE

Author: 

Nina Golden

An older man retires (or is pushed out of the job, depending on whom you ask) after years of forecasting the weather on a major TV network. A man over forty with broadcast experience, as well as degrees in Geosciences and Broadcast Meteorology, applies for the position. The network gives the job to the young woman (with no such degrees) who had been the weather reporter at its sister station, thus creating a vacancy at that second station. The man applies for the position at the sister station, which the network gives to another young, attractive woman. The man sues on the bases of age and sex discrimination. The network counters by filing an anti- SLAPP motion, claiming that the man’s case — an employment discrimination case — constitutes a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suit. In other words, a multi- billion dollar corporation files an anti-SLAPP motion to prevent one individual’s discrimination case from allegedly interfering with its (the corporation’s) free speech rights. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have found in favor of expanding corporations’ rights, a trend seemingly followed by lower courts’ rulings on anti-SLAPP motions to strike. Based on its legislative history, the original intent of the anti-SLAPP motion was to encourage public participation. The anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss was designed to allow people to speak out against wrongdoings without being afraid that the defendant would engage in expensive legal maneuvers and machinations, solely for the purpose of wearing down (and possibly bankrupting) the plaintiff. How is it that a giant corporation could use such a tool against one individual? View More