Deciding whether to sue your employer should not be taken lightly. These days, many people spend more waking time at work than with family, and therefore the choices that impact a person’s career are as critical as ever. So, it is very important that you make an informed decision about the potential benefits as well as the risks of bringing a lawsuit against or even raising the possibility of legal action with your employer. At Wigdor LLP, we pride ourselves on spending time with prospective clients before agreeing to represent them.
When you, a prospective client, contact us about a potential case, you should ask yourself the question: “Why am I calling an employment lawyer?” Then, contact Wigdor LLP and let us know that you’d like to speak with an attorney. You will give your name, a personal (non-work) number where you can be reached and receive private messages, and also provide a brief description of your situation or potential case. If you are considering bringing a claim against your current employer, DO NOT call us from a work phone and DO NOT email us from your employer’s computer or from a work email address.
One of our lawyers will follow up with you to discuss your situation and get some background information about you, your workplace, your work history and the basic facts regarding what happened to make you want to file a lawsuit or hire an employment lawyer. After this initial call, a prospective client will usually have an in-person meeting with one of Wigdor LLP’s lawyers.
Before this in-person meeting, if you haven’t done so already, carefully think through the issues and central facts of your potential case. If the attorney you spoke with asks, please write down or type up a chronology of the facts of your case: a history of what exactly happened, when each incident happened and who was involved in the events that prompted you to seek legal help. Of course, this should be done on your time and at home or in private, NOT at work and NOT using your employer’s computer. If you have copies of documents, emails, handbooks or employer policies that relate to your potential case, you should hold onto those documents and ask whether to bring them to the meeting for Wigdor LLP’s lawyers to review.
Then, it’s time for your in-person meeting with a Wigdor LLP lawyer. While at this stage the lawyer you will meet is not your legal representative, we treat everything you tell us during this process as protected by attorney-client privilege to the fullest extent permitted by law. However, if you email us from your employer’s computer, the attorney-client privilege may be waived inadvertently. Please contact us only using a personal phone and NEVER email us from a computer, network, or email address owned by your employer.
This in-person meeting is more than a chance for you to tell us about your potential case. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know us, ask questions, and make sure that you feel comfortable with us. Bring everything you’ve collected or prepared to your in-person meeting: a written chronology (if requested), any related emails, documents, notes, handbooks or policies, and anything that might help you remember what happened and when it happened (like a diary or outlook calendar showing events and meetings). It is essential that you DO NOT destroy or erase any documents or information that may affect your case – you have a duty to preserve all documents that may be relevant to your potential matter. Even the smallest digital record or document is potential evidence, and destruction of evidence could result in dismissal of your matter or even sanctions in court.
Please keep in mind that when you are telling us the facts of your case, it is key that you share with us ALL of the relevant information you have, not just the facts that support your potential claims. We have to know everything that affects the potential case – good and bad – so that we can find the best strategy to represent you. Being open and honest with your lawyer is the way to get the best results. There are two sides to every story, so if you have relevant information that shows you in a bad light, it’s better for us to hear it from you, and as soon as possible. Unless you are honest, forthright, and complete during your meeting with us, we will not be able to help or guide you effectively and avoid potential pitfalls in your case.
Once we have received everything from you that we believe is needed to assess your matter and have had an opportunity to review it, Wigdor LLP’s Partners will make a decision about whether we can represent you in your matter and on what terms. If we can represent you, we will present you with an engagement letter which is a contract detailing the terms and scope of our role as your legal representative in the matter at hand. Most of our representations of individuals are done on a contingency fee basis in which you do not pay us our standard hourly rates, but instead a percentage of the gross recovery is used as compensation to the Firm. If you don’t recover anything, neither do we. In some cases, we work on an hourly basis and require an up-front refundable retainer. Whether the case is a contingency or hourly case, however, you are obligated to pay out-of-pocket expenses as the case progresses, such as for overnight mail, filing fees, transcripts and expert witnesses.
Once you have retained us as your lawyer in a case against your employer, in most matters we begin by sending a detailed letter to your employer explaining the situation and the potential liability they face. We do this in an effort to resolve your matter amicably and privately. Matters often are resolved prior to instituting legal proceedings. Sometimes, negotiations are conducted with an employer directly. In other instances, an employer may hire outside counsel to communicate with us. Decisions on settlement and process (including, for example, whether to use a third-party mediator to attempt to reach an agreement with your employer or whether to file a lawsuit against your employer) are made after consultation with you.
In some cases, litigation is necessary. A typical single-plaintiff employment litigation matter may take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to reach trial. However, most cases settle prior to trial – perhaps because our Firm is best known for its trial skill and capabilities. During litigation, the parties will exchange documents and emails (“discovery”) and take sworn testimony from witnesses (“depositions”). All of this requires time, given the volume of discovery and the typical necessity to engage in arguments and motions with the other side concerning the scope of documents and information required to be disclosed in the litigation. After discovery and depositions are completed, employers often will make a motion to dismiss the case (“summary judgment”) and the judge will determine whether there are enough disputed facts and evidence to require a trial in the case. If you are successful at trial, the types of damages that may be awarded to you will depend upon the laws and type of harm at issue in your case. Of course, as your attorneys we will keep you informed about the litigation process throughout the case.