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BETTER A JOB THAN A LAWSUIT

Litigation is serious business. When I sue someone on behalf of my clients, I'm accusing the defendant of having broken the law, and having hurt someone by doing it. I don't take such accusations lightly. The facts have to be there to make such an accusation.


When someone has been wronged -- no matter to what degree -- it's natural to want to address it. No one wants to accept being harmed, or to feel like they didn't stand up for themselves.


But I'm here to tell you: litigation is usually not the right answer.


1. TWO PARTS TO EVERY LAWSUIT


Every lawsuit (of the type that I deal with) has two parts: liability, and damages. Liability asks, "Did the employer do something illegal?" I don't mean unfair, arbitrary, or wrong. I mean illegal, in that for there to be liability, the employer has to have broken the law somehow.


That's only half of it, though. The next question is: "What are damages?"


Damages ask, "What harm did the employer cause, and what will it take to fix and make better what happened?" It's the jury's responsibility to determine how to put the plaintiff back in the position he or she would have been had the harm not happened (assuming that the jury finds liability in the first place).


II. BETTER TO HAVE A JOB THAN A LAWSUIT


In most cases, it's better to have a job than a lawsuit. Maybe your employer didn't pay you properly. Maybe your employer made you skip lunch a few times.


It would be illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for complaining about these things. But employers do illegal things all the time. That's how I stay in business.


Before deciding to litigate or even to complain, consider: Is it really worth losing your job over what the employer did? You may wind up with a good lawsuit, but if you see anything from it at all, it will take some time. And meanwhile, you don't have an income.


III. IF YOU REALLY CAN'T STAND IT THERE


Consider the fact that most claims have a statute of limitations associated with them. That means that, if you don't bring your lawsuit within a certain amount of time, your right to do so will be lost forever.


If you really just can't stand working at your employer because of what they did, think about finding a new place to work before you do something that's going to cost you your current job. Then consider whether you want to bring your claim within the statute of limitations.


IV. CONCLUSION


Litigation is a nasty business. It takes your time, your money, and your energy that is likely spent better elsewhere, like in your new job. Suing a company is a last resort for people who don't really have another option. Consider whether complaining about what your employer did is really worth what's going to happen if they retaliate against you.


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