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In an employment action where the issues are complicated, it is never a good idea to represent yourself. In fact, even attorneys will not represent themselves in these matters because a pro se party can lose objectivity and that can cause him to miss things in a case.
The damage you can do to yourself is you could end up not just losing your case, but also losing or ruining any chance you might have had on an appeal.
Unfortunately, legal fees in employment cases can be costly and legally we are forbidden from representing customers from this site. Whether or not you scrape together the down payment is based on how important this case is to you and what you have to gain if you win. You have to do a cost benefit analysis and be honest with yourself on the case.
NY attorneys are very tough with these employment cases and those types of down payment retainers are not unusual I am sorry to say.
If you are going to represent yourself, before you do anything go to the local library and get yourself a copy of the NY Rules of Civil Procedure
and the NY rules of Evidence, because the courts will not cut you any breaks for representing yourself and this is where many pro se litigants cause irreparable damage to their cases.
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