Monday, September 15, 2014

When Not to Sue Your Boss

Going through a lawsuit, any lawsuit, is a very stressful experience.  The opposing counsel will take your deposition, which can be very stressful.  It is hard to be forced to answer questions under oath even if you sometimes feel the questions are embarrassing or invade your privacy.  The opposing counsel will try to shoot holes in your credibility and perhaps your character.  And, if it is a discrimination case, oftentimes co-workers are afraid to get involved because they need their jobs, too.

Here are some things to consider before you decide to sue for discrimination:

1.  Are you still working at the place of employment?  THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT THIS!!!

    It is very stressful suing a current employer.  If the conduct is bad, most people would be better off quitting, especially if the employee can get another job.  If you don't want to leave, consider that:

        a.  Is the conduct really bad or do I just want them to change and I am frustrated?  Will a visit to HR or the president of the company make a difference?

       b.   Does the company know about what is going on?  If it is sexual harassment, have you clearly complained to someone in charge?

If you can get a situation changed for the better without resorting to litigation, you should try to do that first.  Litigation is a last resort.

2.   Do you think if you sue your employer you will hit the jack pot?  BAD REASON!!!

    Looking got a pot of gold is never the right reason to bring a discrimination case.  People don't like greedy people.  I don't like greedy people.  Few people get rich from suing their employer.  To win an employment case, the jury should see that civil rights and fairness are important to you.  And stopping racism or sexism or ageism must be more important than money.  People who are the most devoted to discrimination cases have a desire to make the workplace better not only for themselves, but also others. Money is not the primary motivator.

4.    Can you prove that discrimination based on your being in a protected class is part of the reason you were damaged.    EVIDENCE IS ESSENTIAL!

   Discrimination, such as racist terms, sexist actions, have to be clear.  That does not mean that the "n" has to be in every case.  There are "code words" that substitute for traditional discriminatory terms.  Some of these are - for racism- lazy, late to work, doesn't catch on,; for ageism - too slow, can't deal with technology, needing newer ideas looked through fresher eyes; and, with sexism - can't make decisions, not authoritative enough, or too nice.

5.   Can you withstand the attacks and stress because you believe that your case could make it better for the company's employees and maybe even for the country as a whole.  THIS IS THE BEST REASON OF ALL!!!

Even though plaintiffs have lawyers usually working on a contingent fee basis, lawsuits are still very stressful, embarrassing and there is no guarantee for success.  Some people are more risk averse than others.  All of these issues should be explained to you when you consult with a lawyer. All lawyers do not work in all areas.  I would recommend employment discrimination lawyers for employment discrimination cases.   Out of the employment lawyers, you should look for lawyers with trial experience in the area of your case.  Surprisingly, many lawyers have had few or no trials.  If you hire a seasoned trial lawyer, not only will you be hiring a professional with experience in evaluating cases, and who is more likely to be respected by defense counsel.

If you have discovered blatant and pervasive discrimination and bigotry, that is when I like to think the fine citizens of Missouri want change. Sometimes we have to do things that are difficult.  It's a matter of character.  When you have the chance to make the lives of other workers less discriminatory, you should do it.   It's the right thing to do.

1 comment:

  1. I think most would be happy seeing the guilty party fired I know with my issue that's what I would like to see but I have a strange case. I answer to a GM and we have no HR and no clear owners to go to just a board that changes about as fast as one mows the yard. The GM is a don't like it quit type of person. While he walks around breaking one rule after another in the employee handbook that we are told does not apply to him.