How To Pursue A Wrongful Termination Case

How To Pursue A Wrongful Termination Case

Even though some progress has been made, it is an unfortunate fact that illegal discrimination and harassment continue to occur at work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that nearly 90,000 discrimination complaints were filed just in 2014 alone. A majority of employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on the employees’ pregnancy status, age, sex, race, national origin or color. They are also prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of their disability, religion and genetic information.

In New Jersey, under the Law Against Discrimination, employers are further prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation and marital status. If your employer terminated you, laid you off or forced you to resign from your job because of your membership in one of the protected classes, you might want to meet with the attorneys at Swartz Swidler LLC about how to pursue a wrongful termination case.

Ways to recover damages

If you decide to pursue a wrongful termination claim, you may have several ways to recover damages. You may be able to reach a settlement agreement through informal discussions your attorney can have with your employer. Your attorney may also file a lawsuit on your behalf or an administrative claim.

Informal negotiations

In some cases, an attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement between you and your employer through negotiating informally. Your attorney may explain the legal basis for your claims and tell you what amount would be fair to settle your case. Your employer may be more inclined to settle the matter if you have an attorney than if you do not.

Your attorney may first call your employer or your employer’s attorney in order to discuss your claim and its merits. He or she may try to find out if the employer would be interested in entering into settlement talks. Your lawyer may alternatively send a demand letter, which outlines your claims and makes an initial demand for settlement. The employer or its lawyer may then call your attorney in order to negotiate. Both your attorney and the employer’s attorney may negotiate back and forth with counter-offers until reaching a compromise. It is possible that you may be able to resolve your claim at this early stage depending on how strong the evidence is and how much money might be at stake.

Administrative claim

Before you are allowed to file a discrimination lawsuit under federal law, you are first required to file an administrative claim charging discrimination and wrongful termination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. New Jersey also has its own anti-discrimination laws, so you may want to also file a claim with the analogous state agency as well.

When you file your discrimination charges with the EEOC, it will investigate your claim. In very rare cases, the EEOC will opt to file a lawsuit against your employer on your behalf. In most cases, however, the agency issues right-to-sue letters giving people the right to file lawsuits in federal court. If the agency takes more than 180 days to investigate your claim, it must provide you with a right-to-sue letter if you request one.

How to pursue a wrongful termination case in court

The court allows you to file a claim on your own, or you can instead choose to have an attorney with Swartz Swidler file it for you. It is likely a smarter choice to hire an attorney. The federal court system has very strict filing requirements and complex procedures that may be difficult to understand. Your attorney may also reach a resolution much faster for you. He or she may know what documents you will need to prove your case and may work to maximize the settlement amount. Your employer may be more likely to agree to settle out of court when an attorney is involved in order to avoid the cost of litigation and the potential for a jury verdict.

Lawsuit

After you receive a right-to-sue letter, you must file a lawsuit with the court within 90 days. Your lawyer will identify the legal grounds for your claims and draft your complaint. He or she will then advocate for you throughout the process up and through trial if necessary.

Mediation

It is possible that you will be able to reach an agreement with your former employer through mediation. This is a method of alternative dispute resolution that happens in an informal setting. In mediation, you and your employer meet with a neutral third party who is trained at facilitating settlement agreements. The mediator will not issue a ruling, so if you do not reach an agreement at mediation, you will proceed on through litigation.

Hiring a lawyer

Whatever method you decide to use for resolving your discrimination and wrongful termination claim, it is smart to at least schedule a consultation with an attorney. Swartz Swidler offers free consultations. During yours, the attorney will ask you a series of questions so that he or she may assess your case’s strength.

What to bring to your appointment

It is a good idea to bring specific documents to your first meeting with an attorney. A lawyer will want to see the following:

  •  Any letters or written documents from your employer about your firing
  • Copies of your performance evaluations and other personnel file contents
  • Pay stubs before your termination
  • A chronological and descriptive timeline of events

When you meet with the attorneys at Swartz Swidler, we will review your documents and discuss what happened with you. We may then offer a fair evaluation of your case’s worth. If we agree to take your case, we will advocate for you through every stage in an effort to secure you the maximum recovery that you deserve.