• Here is a tip: life is not fair.
• Here is second tip: the law is not always fair.
• Here is a third tip: just because laws are on the books does not mean that some entity will apply them fairly, or indeed at all.
Some readers may be surprised to hear these tips. A day doesn’t pass in my law practice when several callers tell me that they have been the victim of some misdeed, outrage, inappropriate conduct, criticism, discipline, or discrimination, as the case may be, which they are certain is against the law, based on knowledge acquired in the print media and on the Internet. Although I often agree with them, I also tell them that just because thousands of laws have been passed by various government bodies, there is often no enforcement authority or agency attached, and if they are attached, they often do not have the resources to handle the number of matters before them.
For example, in the field of discrimination and civil rights, each state has an agency which has been established to handle complaints pertaining to state law, which in Pennsylvania is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and there is also a federal agency which deals with federal law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Many cities also have established their own agencies. One is required to file a complaint with one or more of these agencies before one may proceed to court. However, these agencies generally do not have the time or resources to handle the thousands of complaints filed with them, so in my experience it is rare that a full-blown investigation is completed for every complaint, and it is rarer still, that these complaints are resolved at the agency level. Therefore, many, many of these complaints fall by the wayside and are never fully addressed. Is this fair? Not necessarily so. Is it illegal? No.
Another example is someone I know whose car was struck by another vehicle on a quiet back road in the suburbs. The person I know had a stop sign and stopped at the stop sign. In fact, because the road ahead of that person was a dead end, they had to turn left or right after stopping at the stop sign. Due to the amount of foliage present, after the person stopped, they crept forward slowly, keeping their eye out for traffic. Unfortunately, the driver of the car who hit the person alleges that he didn’t see the person’s car until it was too late, and, as a result, hit the person with full force on the driver’s side. The person had to be extricated from the car, and their car was totaled.
Was that person driving carefully and following the law? Yes. To make matters worse, the person whose car was struck was given a citation because they had the stop sign, and the police officer came to the hospital to tell this person a ticket would be issued. The person hoped the officer would change his mind, but the person received a citation. Was this fair? No. The person decided to contest the ticket, and came to court to provide a defense, with a lawyer present. The police officer who issued the citation was there as was the other driver who loudly told the receptionist that he was in attendance because he agreed with the officer. Based on the person’s lawyer’s advice and the nature of of local courts, where the same police officers appear before the same judge day after day, and because the person did not want points attached to their driving record, the person agreed to plead guilty and pay a fine. Was this fair? No.
To make matters worse, the person’s insurance company wanted to drop the person because of the accident, but instead agreed to double the person’s premiums. Is this fair? No. But, in the course of things, the person survived a serious accident, so I guess what is fair depends on the situation.