Because of their personal nature, employment cases can be very dramatic and emotional. Let’s face it, being fired is traumatic. It’s important to keep a level head and make sure you have preserved documents and not damaged your case before you’ve even begun!
Make sure you have a case:
First, and this may seem obvious, but make sure your claims won’t be dismissed because of your own misconduct. Have you stretched the truth on your resume and/or job application? Do you have confidential documents in your possession? Your lawyer can only help you if they have all the facts. The good facts, the bad facts and sometimes even the ugly facts.
Have you been presented with a separation agreement or does your employment agreement (or handbook) require disputes be resolved by arbitration? These are all crucial issues to examine at the outset. Have all your information at hand when asking an attorney to evaluate your case. Ask the difference between an agreement that requires arbitration rather than allowing for your claims to be heard by a jury. Each is a very different case. Understand the difference.
Know the process:
Employment cases have to follow very specific guidelines. State and Federal law both require all administrative remedies and procedures be completed before a complaint is filed. If your employment contract or internal procedures require you follow a grievance process prior to filing a lawsuit, then make sure you have done so. You will need a copy of your employment contract (or handbook) for your lawyer to be sure the internal administrative process is exhausted. After those avenues have been pursued, check the state and federal rules and ensure you follow the rules and regulations necessary to file a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before you file a complaint in court. And, of course, know your timelines. Employment cases have specific timelines and regulations so keep an eye on due dates and statues of limitations.
Get all of your ducks in a row:
Before you file your complaint with the EEOC, ensure you get any documentation, proof and statements you may need. This is especially important if you need any statements from employees who still work for the company. Once a complaint is filed, your client’s former employer will likely make it very difficult for you to access any current employees, but make sure all evidence collection is completely above board. You don’t want a single piece of evidence to be dismissible, or worse, open you up to liability.
Employment cases can be satisfying and if you’ve been wronged in the workplace, litigation can make things right, but these cases can be an uphill battle if you do not follow these simple steps at the outset. Be sure you have the right team on your side so you are ready for the fight!