I think I have a good discrimination case against my employer, but have never been involved in any sort of court matter before. Is it difficult to sue your employer?
Suing your employer is really easy. Anyone with a job or who has recently had a job can do it. Winning a case is what is nearly impossible.
— Evil Skippy
Most employment lawsuits never go to trial and in most cases, the only ones who come out ahead financially are the lawyers.
It is easy to believe at the outset that the money does not matter – you’re mainly concerned about the principles at stake, right? It is not so easy to maintain this belief as the case drags on for months or years and you are subjected to lengthy depositions, cumbersome document productions and meetings with lawyers – as well as legal fees. (Even if you manage to find a lawyer who will take your case on “a contingency”, you still would have to pay for court costs, copying charges and transcription expenses — from all those depositions). Sure, you will get reimbursed by the losing employer at the end of the case – but only if you win and even then only if your employer stays in business.
I am not saying that every case is a loser. Far from it. There are many worthy cases in the United States’ work world that have the potential to change things for the better for employees across the country, or at least net a hefty monetary judgment for the aggrieved person (i.e., you). I have no way of knowing which camp you might be in.
The best advice I can give you is to calm down and delay making any decision about a lawsuit until you are certain that you are thinking clearly as opposed to thinking in terms of revenge and payback or an opportunity to reel in some big bucks. Ask yourself – “Will I feel good about committing my time and energy to this if it turns out from a legal perspective that I am not entitled to a dime? Or if my rotten employer and their lawyers pull a fast one and get the case dismissed on some sort of ‘technicality’ even though I was wronged?”
Also, consider options that might be available to you other than a lawsuit. For example, you can file a charge with the EEOC if your employment case involves a federal law. Many areas are also covered by state or local civil rights protections and have local agencies that administer the statutes. Do some Internet research to see what options are available where you live.
If that sounds like too much effort or bother, by all means forget about lawsuits.
Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars! For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, use the “Contact” link on the left sidebar.