At Falls Legal we receive multiple telephone calls every day from employees with questions about various types of employment law issues. Generally these calls are because the employee is experiencing a problem at work. I find that preparing potential clients for the types of information we need to know and questions that they should ask is beneficial for everyone. So here goes…..
Hardly a day goes by where I don’t receive a telephone call from someone saying that they have been “wrongfully terminated.” “Wrongful termination,” like “hostile work environment,” and “retaliation” are legal terms with very specific definitions associated with each. Only after you have spoken with a lawyer, will you be able to determine whether your case falls into one of these categories. For some previous blog posts regarding hostile work environment, retaliation, and wrongful termination, click here.
2) Call Multiple Lawyers
I always tell clients to call multiple lawyers before they select the right firm. Sometimes you should call other lawyers to see if they will handle your case for a different type of fee (contingency, hourly, etc.) Other times you should call different attorneys to see if they disagree with the analysis and have other theories on your case. Sometimes you should call other lawyers just because you did not get a good feel from the first lawyer’s office you called. In South Carolina, we have a handful of lawyers that represent employees exclusively. We are happy to make referrals to other employee representation attorneys in the area if we cannot handle your case.
3) Be Honest
No case is perfect and we understand that. In order for us to fully assess your case, we need to know what the employer is going to say. In fact, I always ask potential clients “what is the employer going to say their reasoning for the action is?” Many times, the employee will know or have a good idea. If you have had performance issues, suspensions, or are presently on a performance plan, I need to know that. I cannot protect you from things I do not know. If you are honest and acknowledge the weaknesses in your case, we can come up with strategies to help you combat these issues. For example, if you are having performance issues at work but other employees that are not in your protected category are also having these issues and being treated more favorably, we can discuss how that might impact your case.
4) Tell Us About Your Proof
We need to know about any paperwork, witnesses, or other evidence you have that supports your claim. If you have a contract or Employee Handbook, we will need to see that. If you have emails that are relevant, we will need these as well. We will also need to know the names of potential witnesses and whether they are willing to cooperate or speak with us.
5) Understand That The Process Is Slow
Employment law cases are special because, generally, you must first file a complaint with the EEOC before you can file a lawsuit in open court. There are strict timeframes for doing so. The EEOC process can take up to a year before you are even able to file in court. If your case proceeds to court after the EEOC investigation is complete, that can take 1-2 more years. There are some cases where the employer is willing to discuss an early resolution to the case but those cases are rare exceptions.
In sum, if you are having an employment related issue at work, you should proactively reach out to multiple South Carolina employment law attorneys to determine whether it is beneficial to proceed with some type of claim. When you do so, be honest, lay out the facts in a concise manner, tell us what the employer is going to say, and give us a synopsis of your proof. Also, understand that not all unfair treatment at work is legally actionable. There are many times in which an employer is treating an employee in an unfair manner but it is not necessarily illegal treatment.