Your First Employment Case - What to Expect.
At this point you’re either initiating legal action against your employer or former employer, or still considering whether or not to do so. This article will give you a closer look at how employment cases typically move forward from the initial consultation up to the filing of a complaint, so you can get a better idea of what to expect. Please keep in mind that this article is a general overview and is in no way applicable to all matters, as each client and case is unique; nor is it a guarantee of service or results.
First things first, we need to meet you in order to understand your situation and your needs. We will confer in person or over the phone and discuss what type of employment issues you experienced, what type of resolution you are hoping for, and whether or not hiring a lawyer is the best way for you to resolve those issues. When preparing for this initial consultation, some clients have found it helpful to write down a simple chronological outline of events to guide them in telling us their story. If we all decide to move forward, we will create an attorney-client relationship using a fee agreement.
Everyone knows that legal matters can be expensive. While this is true in a general sense, keep in mind that there are many ways of structuring a fee agreement, and we will always do our best to work within your financial means to achieve results. The fee agreement will describe exactly what you will be charged and when, and each invoice will detail which attorneys worked on which aspects of your case and for how long. Our goal is complete transparency so that you feel supported and know we are working hard for your rights. Our most common fee agreements include:
Retainer – you pay a lump sum up front to complete an agreed upon scope of work, and we deduct hourly rates from that sum, refunding any portion of the sum that may go unused.
Contingency – we agree to a percentage split of any eventual settlement.
Creating Your Timeline
Once your fee agreement has been finalized, we will ask you to write up a chronological timeline describing what happened to you, using specific facts like names and dates. We will send you an example timeline so you know how much detail to include. Writing your timeline can sometimes be emotional or traumatic because you have to “relive” difficult experiences, so we suggest you be gentle with yourself while writing, and reach out to a personal support system if you need help getting through the timeline. It doesn’t need to be perfect, only our attorneys will see it as we will use the facts from your timeline to build the best possible legal case for you.
While creating your timeline and recalling details of your experience, it can be helpful to gather the evidence you will use to support the facts in your timeline. This evidence can include emails, text and other media messages; offer letters, termination notices, performance improvement plans, human resources files, etc. We will eventually ask you to provide as much supporting documentation as we feel is necessary for your case. If you no longer have access to supporting evidence, don’t worry, there are a number of methods by which we can usually retrieve communications and documents from your (former) employer.
Communicating with the Employer
There are a myriad of options of how to communicate with an employer about your case. In some instances informal phone calls can adequately resolve an issue, while some matters, however, go directly to litigation with the filing of a complaint. If we decide it is the right approach, we will use your timeline and evidence to create a confidential settlement communication called a demand letter and send it to your former employer. The demand letter will describe the relevant facts and include a legal analysis that explains which causes of action (e.g. discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination) we will pursue if we proceed with a lawsuit. The demand letter will also list a calculation of damages suffered and offer a dollar amount to settle your matter before proceeding with a lawsuit.
Awaiting a Response
The reaction to a demand letter, or any communication initiated with an employer, depends on the company or individual we communicate with, and can vary greatly. Often times, a former employer will request a settlement conference or mediation in order to resolve the matter without litigating. Sometimes, the former employer will request more time to conduct an investigation into the allegations before discussing the matter further. No matter what the response, we will actively communicate with the other party, and with you, to make sure that things progress towards a resolution that you are comfortable with.
Filing a Complaint
If the communications are unsuccessful and you would like to do so, we will then file a complaint in the appropriate court. This initiates the lawsuit, and involves many next steps that we will detail in a different post.
Thank you for reading! Please reach out to us if you think our services could be helpful to you, and be sure to check our Resource Center in the future for more articles like this one.