We outline the variables and factors that an employment lawyer considers when presented with a potential case.
Whether you’re an employer or an employee, specific conflicts may arise in the workplace that requires legal help. When you hire a lawyer specializing in employment law, they can help you advise, interpret, and litigate legal issues at work. There are multiple scenarios in which hiring an employment lawyer is an appropriate decision. However, most lawyers work on a contingency-fee-basis, meaning they don’t get paid until you do. To ensure that everyone wins (and gets paid), they want to ensure there’s potential for success in the cases they take on. Once you present your case to your lawyer, they’ll use the information you provide them and their legal expertise to assess your case.
How can an employment lawyer help me?
First, it’s imperative to understand what employment lawyers do and how they can help you. Some lawyers work strictly on the employee side; others may work on the employer side or both – but only within non-unionized workplaces. If you work in a unionized workplace, you’ll need to consult with a labour lawyer.
As an employee, an employment lawyer can help you with:
- Terminations and dismissals
- Reviewing and evaluating contracts, benefit and insurance plans, policies, and other agreements
- Human rights violations in the workplace
- Severance packages
As an employer, an employment lawyer can help you with:
- Determining whether or not there is cause to terminate an employee
- Drafting and reviewing contracts, clauses, and policies
- Negotiating with employees or their lawyers
- Defending against a wrongful dismissal lawsuit
- Workplace investigation
- Ensuring compliance with employment standards
- Prosecuting employees
Factors that play a role in the evaluation of your case
Your lawyer needs to corroborate your word to prove your case; they’ll need evidence to do this. The strength of your case is determined mainly by how much evidence you have. Evidence can include emails, texts, contracts and written agreements, doctors’ notes, job postings, pay stubs, performance reviews, proof of disciplinary actions, and witness testimonies. It’s crucial to gather as much evidence as you can or provide your lawyer with information about where they could get more evidence for you.
It’s also crucial to have a specific timeline of the events and when they unfolded (if applicable). If your claim is based on workplace harassment, discrimination or termination, a timeline will be beneficial. The more information you can provide to your employment lawyer, the better. Make a note of when the issue started, if it was ongoing or sudden, if there were multiple incidents or just one, and when and where these events occurred. Additionally, due to specific statutes of limitations, you may not have a case at all if the incident happened too long ago, which makes the timeline exceptionally important.
At the very beginning of a case, the amount of damages isn’t always the number one priority because it can evolve as the case progresses. With that being said, if you have any evidence of damages upon first meeting with your lawyer, you have a better chance at obtaining representation. It’ll allow your lawyer to have a more thorough understanding and make a better assessment of your case.
There are three different types of damages:
Economic damages: economic damages are related to finances and economic losses. If you’re an employee, this may be lost wages or lost benefits that resulted from your termination. When an employment lawyer assesses monetary damages, they’ll look at whether you’ve since found a new job, how much you lost, and whether you’re currently looking for a new job.
As an employer, economic damages could look like a loss of revenue or business opportunities directly related to an employee’s actions, misconduct, or breach of contract.
Non-economic damages: non-economic damages are subjective, non-monetary losses. Some examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, reputational damage, and humiliation. It’s not always easy to provide evidence of non-economical damages. An employment lawyer will evaluate these damages based on how credible or likely they are in relation to the case and the likelihood that a jury or factfinder will find the damages reasonable.
Punitive damages: punitive damages are the third type of damages; however, they don’t play a role in how a lawyer evaluates a case. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant if they acted with malice or disregard of your rights. These damages aren’t awarded to compensate for any loss; they solely punish the offending party. Punitive damages are rare and the least likely to be granted, especially in employment law.
Can a lawyer reject my case?
Yes, a lawyer may choose to reject your case. After a lawyer comprehensively assesses your case, they’ll decide whether or not they can take you on as a client. If they don’t believe that you have a strong case, it’s entirely reasonable for you to ask them for an explanation. Sometimes a lawyer’s decision to reject a client has nothing to with the case at all. They may feel as though they’re not the right fit, there may be a conflict of interest, or they may not have the capacity to provide you with the time and attention you need based on their current caseload. If an employment lawyer rejects your case, you can always ask them to refer you to another attorney or advise you on what to do next.
If you’re unsure about whether an employment lawyer can help you, just ask. A large majority of lawyers offer free, no-obligation consultations so that you have nothing to lose. They’ll be able to answer any questions you may have and further explain their process and how they would handle a case like yours. There are many ways that an employment lawyer can help you, and every case is unique in its own way. Even if you didn’t see your specific situation listed or mentioned above, a lawyer might still be able to assist you or point you in the right direction.