If you’ve been wrongfully terminated, or you feel you’re the victim of workplace discrimination, harassment, unsafe working conditions, or wage and hour violations, you might want to just let it go—but that would be a mistake. In recent years, many victimized California employees decided not to let it go, sued their employers, and won multi-million dollar settlements. To cite just a few examples:
- Mercy General Hospital (Sacramento) paid $168 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit judgment
- Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company (Los Angeles) was forced to pay $8.5 million in a disability discrimination lawsuit judgment
- Sears (Sacramento) paid $5.2 million in a race discrimination lawsuit judgment
- Rite Aid (Los Angeles) paid $3.5 million in a disability discrimination lawsuit judgment
- Qwest Communications (San Francisco) paid $2.3 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit judgment
More Employees Are Seeking Justice
The number of employees, in California and across the nation, who are no longer willing to let it go is increasing. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, since 2005, the number of wrongful termination lawsuits, for example, has increased “significantly” every year.
To be successful in an employment lawsuit, you need a skilled employment attorney. Here are 7 tips to find the best employment attorney to meet your individual needs, and help you win in court:
1. Get Advice from Friends, Family and Coworkers
One of the best sources for the names of skilled attorneys is people you know. There’s a good chance one or more of them will have experience with an employment-related lawsuit, or know someone else who has. When you identify someone who’s filed an employment lawsuit, ask about the experience they had with the law firm and their attorney: did he take their concerns seriously, find time to meet with them when they needed help or advice, and was he upfront about expectations and fees?
2. Visit Employment Attorney Websites
Use a referral service from the State Bar website, or type “employment lawyer” plus the name of your town or city into a search engine to find websites of employment law firms in your area. Go to each of the relevant websites.
The best law firms will have websites which provide useful and detailed information—about the firm, practice areas, and current cases and investigations. The website should also provide detailed information about each of the Partners and Associates, including education and background, legal experience, practice areas and memberships. You should plan to look further into firms that provide this kind of detailed information. Those that don’t probably aren’t worth your time.
3. Schedule Consultations
After you’ve narrowed your list down to the top two or three firms, call to schedule consultations. In preparation for those meetings, you’ll need to do some homework, including research on current law as it applies to your case and gathering together all documents relevant to your case.
4. Research Current Employment Law
The best employment attorneys stay at the top of their game by reading top employment law journals and studying current case law. Research recent changes in California employment law (such as those involving the Fair Pay Act) and focus on any which are relevant to your case. In your initial consultation, ask the attorney how changes in the law might impact your case. If he doesn’t know what you’re talking about, you probably want to move on to another attorney.
5. Gather Relevant Documents
Any documents related to your claim constitute evidence in court, so it’s important to have these with you at your initial consultation. Documentation will differ depending on the nature of your case—for example, past performance reviews, letters from your employer regarding any aspect of performance, severance agreements, relevant memoranda and employment contracts will be useful in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
6. Be Proactive in Your Consultation
The best employment attorneys will want to collaborate with you every step of the way, since they understand that your contributions will be helpful to winning the case. In your initial consultation, don’t be shy about asking questions—a good attorney will welcome them—about anything that concerns you, including fees.
After he has reviewed the salient facts of your case and studied relevant documents, you should discuss strategy—how in his view should the case be handled? What are its strong and weak points? Good attorneys will be upfront and honest about the outcome you can expect in court.
7. Be Observant in Your Consultation
A strong attorney-client relationship is built on trust. That trust can only exist when each side respects the other. In your initial consultation, observe the attorney’s behavior carefully. Is he responsive to your questions? Does he seem detached, or actively engaged? Does he listen as much as he talks? Every legal relationship is different—your job is not simply to determine if the attorney you meet with is the best attorney, but also if he is the best attorney for you.
If you’ve been the victim of an employer you feel has treated you unfairly, you probably feel isolated and helpless. This is when a competent employment lawyer can provide the help you need and empower you.
Aiman-Smith & Marcy, a boutique law firm with expertise in federal and California employment law, are dedicated to helping victims. We will take your case seriously, work with you, and provide the help you need to protect your rights. If you need help and would like to discuss your case, contact us today.
I like your recommendations to prepare all the relevant documents beforehand and to be proactive when interviewing the lawyer. This could be helpful because it would show the lawyer that you really want to make sure this case turns out well and you're willing to help. It could really be beneficial in finding a good lawyer as well because if they are just as proactive as you, it could save a lot of time.
I can definitely see why wrongful termination would be an excellent reason to speak with a lawyer about compensation. I have a friend who feels that his place of work happens to be very unfair. I definitely think that he should speak with an attorney about his options in order to get the compensation that he deserves.
My sister was recently fired from a job after she came forward with a sexual harassment claim, and we think it would be good for her to find an attorney. I'm glad you gave some examples of a few companies who have paid out millions due to people having a sexual harassment attorney with a valid case. I think that my sister being able to get compensated for her lost wages and time to find a new job would be great, but we'll see what a sexual harassment attorney can do for her!
What you mention about how being proactive can help is very interesting to me. It makes sense that a good attorney will do anything they can to help you and will be able to answer hard questions. This could be helpful to remember for any sort of attorney, although, it could be particularly helpful to remember for employment due to how sensitive the subject is.
I like that you mentioned to do some homework before you meet with some lawyers. That way, you can have a good bank of information to draw from when deciding if a lawyer knows his stuff. I am looking for a lawyer to help me with a wrongful termination case, and I want to find the best. I will definitely keep these things in mind as I search, thanks a lot.
I absolutely agree with you that a relationship of trust is essential between a lawyer and his clients. My sister really wants to become a lawyer one day and she is one of the most honest and loyal people that I know. Just like you said, observing the attorney's behavior and mannerisms is a great way to see how professional or trained they are. Thanks for the advice!
It is a great suggestion to research the current laws regarding employment and discrimination before looking for a lawyer. Figuring out which ones are relevant to your issue and reading up on them seems like a really smart idea. It will give you the opportunity to ask potential attorneys more specific questions during your initial consultation. You can get a good idea of which lawers really know their stuff based off of their answers.
I like how you suggested being observant and proactive in your consultation. My brother has an attorney for his wrongful termination case. Thanks for the tips on getting a lawyer for your case.