No reasonable person enjoys being involved in a lawsuit, unless you’re the attorney who stands to make millions of dollars in legal fees. Furthermore, there is no real winner in any given lawsuit, considering the time, money and emotional investment required to get a judge or jury to hand down a legally binding ruling.
If you or someone you know is considering legal action against your employer, here are 5 questions you should ask prior to hiring an attorney to sue.
• Do you have any independently verifiable evidence to back up your claims?
Courts of law are kind of funny…they tend to work in your favor when there is concrete evidence to back up your claim. If you have no concrete evidence, including but not limited to paperwork, recordings, or even co-workers who will agree to testify on your behalf, chances are you will have a hard time proving your case.
If everyone at work is siding with your employer and giving you a very wide berth, chances are you’re going to have an uphill battle.
• Is your employer a jerk?
As unfair as it may seem, it is not against the law to be a jerk. In order for a judge or jury to asses legal damages (and financial penalties) against a company, the law has to have been broken. The judge cannot award you ten million dollars because your boss gave a promotion to Suzy instead of you, despite Suzy being an incompetent airhead.
Instead of filing a lawsuit, perhaps it’s best to look for another job if your boss is a run-of-the-mill, first class jerk?
• Have you consulted with an actual attorney (and even gotten a 2nd opinion)?
If you look hard enough, you will be sure to find an attorney who’s willing to sue someone for anything, or anyone for something. This does not necessarily mean you will win the court case, it just means the attorney is willing to take your case. You should consult with an employment attorney prior to actually suing your employer. The employment attorney is well versed in employment law and will give you his/her honest thoughts on whether or not you have a case.
• If you plan on suing for emotional distress, are you prepared to be put under a microscope?
Most lawyers aren’t stupid. In fact, quite the opposite…they’re extremely intelligent. In many cases, they are way more intelligent than you are. So if you’re going to sue for emotional distress, you should expect the attorney from your employer to pull any and all medical, psychological and other personal/psychiatric records and that information will be entered into the public record.
Be aware that your life and past could be exposed in a court of law for everyone to view. This sometimes highly personable information does not get resealed once the court case is over. It will be available for public review for many years to come.
• Are you in it for the long haul?
Generally speaking, court cases can drag on for many years. While you may be hopping mad now and out for blood, ask yourself the following question: Can you mentally, financially and emotionally deal with a lawsuit for (potentially) many years to come?
Anger comes and goes, but if you sue your employer you need to realize that it could drag on for years and by that time you could be sick and tired of having to go to court, deal with the attorneys and all the paperwork and other stuff that goes along with it.
Also keep in mind: No matter how dedicated you are to seeing the court case through to the end, a judge or jury could instantly rule against you even if you feel that you have a very strong case.