Does Meeting With an Employment Attorney Mean I Have to Go to Trial?

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Does Meeting With an Employment Attorney Mean I Have to Go to Trial?

Employment law is a branch of law where attorneys help people navigate a range of work-related complaints or unfair treatment. An employment attorney specializes in things like:

  • Hostile workplaces
  • Legalities regarding rest and meal breaks
  • Retaliation and whistleblowing complaints
  • Severance agreements and severance pay issues
  • Sexual harassment in the workplace complaints
  • Wage and overtime laws
  • Worker’s compensation laws
  • Workplace discrimination complaints (Gender, religious, racial, age, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy and breastfeeding)
  • Wrongful termination cases

Employment attorneys help employees, but they can also work for surviving family members of workers, contractors, customers, etc. Sometimes, situations that affect others who are not employees of that company are also violations. 

For example, if you’re a Hispanic delivery driver and are constantly harassed by a business’s workers about your, that’s still racial discrimination. If you’re a customer, and you witness a manager harassing a worker who is pregnant, you can speak up and file a complaint on her behalf.

If you meet with an employment attorney, is your case always going to go to trial? Are you going to have to stand up in court or make sure you have the time off to appear in court? You might be surprised to learn that when it comes to lawsuits, no more than 5% go to court. The odds of going to trial are very slim. Most employment law cases are dismissed or settled out of court.

What Are the Possible Outcomes?

As many cases never go to trial, what happens? Typically, you have one of two possibilities. The first is that pre-trial motions lead to your complaint being dismissed. If you don’t have clear-cut evidence, this is more likely to happen.

Ideally, you want to have the company offer a settlement. Lost wages are one area a settlement will consider. There’s also emotional distress. Title VII has a $300,000 maximum on punitive damages, unless it’s a case of racial discrimination which doesn’t have a limit. States can have their own limits for compensatory damages, which is why it’s preferable to work with an attorney.

During a settlement offer, your attorney will talk to the company’s legal team. There may be a lot of back and forth with offers, counteroffers, and finally an agreement. At that point, you’d get the amount of the settlement minus the lawyer’s fee.

California’s SB 331 went into effect in 2022. While past sexual discrimination settlements could require the claimants to sign or agree to non-disparagement agreements in order to get the money, the Silenced No More Act ended this practice.

What Can You Do to Improve the Odds of the Outcome You Want?

No matter what your exact situation is, you want the best possible outcome. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) examines all evidence to make sure the harassment has been severe and is clearly illegal. Possible claims aren’t going to get you far. You need a strong case. How do you ensure you have one?

Gather all possible evidence.

Before you call an attorney, print out any emails or text messages you have for evidence. The more evidence you have, the more it helps. If there are voicemails, save them. At the same time, save any computer documents to ensure they don’t get accidentally or deliberately deleted or lost.

Does your employer have an employee handbook? Look for rules that relate to the discrimination, harassment, or retaliation you faced. Copy and print out anything that relates to your case. It’s helpful to highlight the rules to make them easy to find. 

If there are specific instructions on who to file a complaint with, do that first, if you can. If you’re supposed to talk to your supervisor and it’s the supervisor harassing you, it’s going to make it harder to follow the guidelines.

If you know of other coworkers who have witnessed things or have information to back up your claim, take their contact information. An attorney is going to want to talk to them.

Consult with a professional employment attorney.

It doesn’t cost you a penny to talk to an employment attorney. It’s a good way to determine if you have a valid case or not. Before you go further, give an attorney a call and ask for advice. If the attorney takes your case, you’ll work on a contingency fee arrangement, meaning your attorney gets a percentage of your award or settlement. 

Work with an experienced employment attorney. You need someone who can help you understand your rights and what the possible outcomes are. Ideally, you want an attorney who is working to negotiate the best settlement or award possible. 

As you work with this attorney, make sure the attorney will represent you in court. If that attorney is busy and hands your case to another lawyer, you need to know that upfront. You don’t want to be caught off guard.

Start with a consultation with an employment law specialist. The attorney is going to ask about the situation, what steps you’ve taken so far, and what led to you turning to an attorney for help. Have as much proof as you can gather. The more evidence you provide, the easier it is to reach a suitable settlement or court verdict.

If there are documents or other pieces of evidence that might help your case, your attorney will share with you what else will help your case. The attorney can interview witnesses and gather other pieces of evidence to help build a strong case.

Don’t be surprised if an attorney doesn’t take your case. As an attorney works on a contingency fee basis, they’re looking for cases that fall in their line of expertise and that they have the time to fully commit to. You don’t want an attorney who is overloaded and can only devote a few hours here and there to fight for you. If the attorney doesn’t feel they’re the best fit or fears they lack the necessary hours, you’ll be referred to an attorney who is better suited to help you. 

Shegerian Conniff Specializes in Employment Law

It’s in your best interests to meet with an employment attorney. Shegerian Conniff‘s practice is a three-time winner of the Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Most Influential Women Attorneys.” There are several reasons to pick them for your employment law needs, most importantly, you don’t pay any fees unless they win. 

If you don’t get a court award or settlement offer, you don’t pay. Don’t let financial worries keep you from fair and ethical treatment in the workplace. Consultations are free, so there’s truly no risk to you. Call or message Shegerian Conniff today to set up a free consultation.

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