Angry employees, and for that matter, angry bosses, are not at all rare at work. But when does an outrage rise to the level of warranting litigation? This is a tricky question balanced on both pride, cost, and potential degree of injury.
The hardest aspect for most would-be litigants to understand is that in order to be successful, the plaintiff (he or she who is suing) must do much more than just feel slighted. Unfortunately, most courts are not persuaded by the desire, passion or feelings of the plaintiff. It requires that awful word...proof!
So what exactly is "proof"? Well, from a strictly legal standpoint, it is evidence that can be corroborated or authenticated in a courtroom setting. This requires witnesses to working conditions and hours, independent verification of work performed and pay rates (must be brought to court and authenticated)and in the case of the employer, often expert testimony validating the discipline or action taken by the company. in response to employee conduct, was both reasonable and appropriate.
While a plaintiff may have a strong case, litigation is not cheap. A great deal of thought must be put in to the legal equation before a person commits to court. A basic wage and hour case can run thousands of dollars.
So what can you do?
Litigation should always be a last resort. The first recourse is engaging a good lawyer who can help you contact the employer/employee and resolve the differences between the two parties. Settlements and discussions on fair treatment can go a long way in helping to put the issue behind the plaintiff. Why a lawyer? Bluntly, often one side or the other will not take an action seriously unless the threat of litigation is real. A good attorney, will always choose litigation as a last resort if only to preserve the pocket-book of the plaintiff (or defendant, as the case may be).
Sean R. Hanover, Esq
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