Should I Hire a Lawyer Before Filing an Employment Claim if I Suspect Policy/Law Violations?

Should I Hire a Lawyer Before Filing an Employment Claim if I Suspect Policy/Law Violations?

You noticed that policies or laws were violated in your workplace. Perhaps you faced retaliation after reporting serious violations, or maybe you faced harassment at work. Now, you need to file an employment claim.

Do you need a lawyer?

You may choose to work with an attorney for a variety of reasons as you move toward an employment claim. For example, you might need an attorney if:

  • You faced harassment at work that HR did not address, especially if that harassment led to retaliation when reported
  • You faced discrimination for any reason in the workplace
  • You faced retaliation for reporting violations
  • Your employer threatens to sue you for any reason
  • Your employer has asked you to sign complex or confusing paperwork, including a noncompete contract, that you do not fully understand
  • Your employer denies your rights, including your right to overtime, your status as a full-time employee, or your Family Medical Leave Act rights

When Do You Need an Employment Attorney?

Any time you plan to file an employment claim and feel that policies or laws have been violated, consider the benefits of working with an experienced employment attorney. Working with an employment attorney can provide much better odds of success in your claim. An employment attorney can:

Help You Understand Your Rights

Many people suffer in a hostile working environment for years, believing they do not have the right to a claim. For example, your employer may insist that you have “salaried” classification, which means you may not receive compensation for overtime, and force you to work an excessive number of hours each week without adequate compensation. Your employer may also change your status to “contractor,” rather than full-time employee, or hold you as a part-time employee, which means you do not receive certain benefits from the company, rather than classifying you as the full-time employee your hours suggest you are. All of these actions may lead to significantly less compensation than you really deserve for your contributions to your business, especially over the course of months or years. 

Worse, you may find yourself dealing with discrimination: lower wages than your coworkers just because of your gender, getting passed over for promotion because of your race or religion, or even having ideal projects handed to others in your organization because of a disability, in spite of the fact that you do excellent work in spite of it. Other employees may even face direct harassment. 

An employment lawyer can help you understand your rights, including your right to compensation following harassment or discrimination. 

Give You Instruction Concerning Documentation

Document, document, document: it’s one of the most critical rules of dealing with any type of employment claim. If you face any type of discrimination in the workplace, deal with harassment, or must handle a rights violation of any kind, make sure that you document it. An attorney will walk you through the type of information you will need to provide as part of your claim, including:

  • Documentation concerning hours worked
  • Any communication you have had with HR over the issue
  • Specific communications that may prove the actions you took or the demands made by an employer
  • Any written evidence of discrimination

An employment lawyer can also help instruct you on how to document verbal harassment or demands, which can prove more difficult to compile after the fact. 

Help Collect Evidence

Sometimes, you may not realize that you need to collect evidence of discrimination or harassment until well after it begins. In its early stages, for example, you may not realize that a manager or boss has actively discriminated against you. Over time, you may simply watch ideal projects pass you by, or see a coworker receive accolades, promotions, and raises you do not. 

An attorney can help you collect evidence regarding those indiscretions, even if they occurred in the past. An experienced attorney can also give you a better idea of what to look for going forward so that you can more accurately document any events that occur in the workplace, from discrimination to illegal actions. An attorney can also help showcase evidence of, for example, retaliation due to whistleblowing, which your employer may take steps to hide. Your employer might, for example, fire you for a minor indiscretion after you reported the employer to a professional board for failure to take adequate safety precautions. 

Represent You

What you say to your employer, or former employer, matters when dealing with an employment claim. Just as you plan to collect documentation that will show that your employer acted illegally, your employer may try to take as many steps as possible to collect evidence against you: evidence that you did not actually work the hours you claimed, or that you did not perform your work tasks as well as other employees, for example, which would explain why you got passed over for promotion. The representative you speak with may try to trip you up or convince you to say things that do not match up with actual events. The representative may also try to convince you to accept a lower settlement than you really deserve for the financial or physical losses you faced, or may try to convince you to write off any missing funds. 

An attorney, on the other hand, can take over those discussions for you, ensuring that you do not mistakenly say something that could hurt your claim and increasing the odds that your employer will take you seriously. An attorney can also take over with negotiations or communications without emotional investment, which can increase the odds of a successful resolution. Your attorney will pass on any necessary information to you. 

Do you need an experienced employment attorney to aid you as you file an employment claim? Any time you feel that your employer violated policies or laws in dealing with you or others around you, you should hire an attorney before moving forward. Contact Perkins Asbill, A Professional Law Corporation today at 916-446-2000 to learn more about your legal rights before filing an employment claim.