While there are many good reasons to sue your employer, there are also some reasons why suing your employer might not be a good solution. Here are some of the things you should think about when considering a lawsuit.
- Even if you feel mistreated, it is unlikely you were treated illegally. The law sets some minimum standards for employee’s rights. Even though there are some socially accepted ways employees should be treated, you can only sue your employer for breaking the law. Sometimes employers are horrible, but as long as they are equally horrible to everyone. If they play favorites, that is also allowed as long as they don’t pick their favorites based on protected categories like race, sexual preference, or gender.
The legal system is designed to regulate and prevent the worst behaviors, such as violations of rights. It is not there to regulate what is fair or what is right. If everyone sued whenever their feelings were hurt, the legal system would get bogged down and people who needed it would not be helped. Employers should treat their employees fairly, respectfully, and with dignity because it is the right thing to do. However, the law does not require or regulate that. To sue your employer, you need a valid legal claim against your employer.
- Litigation is a long process which can be stressful and costly. No one likes litigation, not the plaintiffs, not the defense, not the lawyers, not the judges. All parties try to settle before court, because litigation is a drawn-out process. Even judges would prefer both parties to settle outside of court. Most courts actually require mediation before they will hear a case. That being said, if the client is unwilling to settle and wants to go to court, lawyers will fight hard. Many employees think that their employer will pay through the nose to avoid a lawsuit, so even the threat of one will be beneficial. However, most companies see lawsuits as the “cost of doing business”, in America, most companies are sued on a regular basis. However, a lawsuit will be more costly and stressful for you rather than the employer. The employer will have a good understanding of how the process works and will have lawyers on retainer to handle the situation for them. The constant stress of a lawsuit will make it difficult to do your job and will make you dwell on the unpleasant experience.
- Your co-workers may not be on your side. Even though you strongly feel that your employer wronged you, your co-workers may not feel the same way. Your co-workers may even resent you for the lawsuit or think that you are out of line. Even co-workers who were your friends may feel resentment for having to give depositions or witness statements in court. Co-workers may act differently toward you for one of the three following reasons
- They are afraid of retaliation from your employer if they do not side with the company.
- They see the lawsuit as an act of war and are being dragged in front of their boss and lawyers, or judges and juries to repeat things they told you in confidence. Suddenly, what they said to you in confidence is a matter of public record, and their image and work prospects are damaged.
- They may believe that your employer was in the right. The boss is not always perfect, but he does try to treat employees well. Even if your colleagues like you they may see you as lazy, stubborn, or insubordinate and therefore are unwilling to take your side. Finding out what your friends really think about you can be one of the most difficult parts of a lawsuit.
- You may be leaving yourself open for scrutiny. As part of a lawsuit, your employer and their legal team will do a little digging into your past. In most employment lawsuits, the plaintiff will claim emotional distress as a result of the employer’s actions. You do not have to claim emotional distress, but it often results in more money. By doing this, your employer can ask to access your medical and psychiatric records. All of a sudden, your medical history, past employment record, and anything else they can get their hands on is a part of the case record. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, and they are likely to come out as part of a lawsuit.
Things That You Won’t Have To Worry About
While the above list are the four biggest things that may arise during an employment lawsuit, the law offers you some protections for exercising your legal rights. You are protected by law from employer retaliation for the lawsuit for any actions up to and including firing. You are also protected by law from being blacklisted and never working again. These are illegal actions and will result in higher payouts and penalties for your employer. Most employers know this and know that if you can prove retaliation you will have a good case.
In summary, filing a lawsuit against your employer should be the last resort. It is best to try and resolve the dispute through all other avenues and only then file a lawsuit if nothing is resolved. Just keep in mind that there are hidden costs to even the strongest of cases.