How do I start the process of suing my boss?
A lawsuit should not be undertaken lightly. First, consult an attorney to determine whether you have a valid claim against your boss. We offer a free consultation. Some other firms offer free consultations or evaluations, but the evaluation is done by a non-lawyer, such as a paralegal or even a receptionist. At our firm, Kenneth R. Myers, Esq. personally handles each case consultation and evaluation. Often we can do the entire consultation and case evaluation by phone. Sometimes an in-person consultation is useful, such as if we need to look over documents the prospective client may have. However, there are papers we need to see to evaluate the case, we can usually get those by fax or e-mail.
If you consult an attorney and are advised that you have a case, you are not obligated to use that attorney. However, after a free consultation, if the attorney feels you have a case, he or she will generally offer to take the case, and usually the prospective client agrees. To formalize this, the client will sign a contract with the attorney, often called a Retainer Agreement.
For some claims, you must file paperwork with a state or federal agency before you can sue in court, and we will handle that when necessary for our clients. If a client has already filed such paperwork before contacting us, that is fine, though we do need a copy of that paperwork, and we sometimes need to amend those papers.
Some employers require employees to sign arbitration agreements. If you have signed such an agreement, it may require you to pursue your claims in private arbitration rather than in court. We handle cases in arbitration regularly, and so this is not a problem, just a slightly different process. If we have reason to believe the client has signed an arbitration agreement, but the client does not have a copy of it, we can write to the employer to demand a copy of the agreement, which usually tells us the steps needed to initiate arbitration, which can vary from agreement to agreement.
Depending on the case, we may want to send the employer a letter right away telling the employer we represent the client and will be pursuing legal claims, and that all relevant evidence must be preserved. Whether to send such a letter depends on various factors. We send such letters more often if the client still works for the employer, so that we can put the employer on formal notice that the employer is not allowed to retaliate against the client for pursuing legal claims.
After the client has hired us and given us all relevant information and documents in his/her possession, the client does not have much to do until the time for his/her deposition, which can be months away. Mr. Myers meets individually with each client for hours before the client deposition to make sure the client is well-prepared. After the deposition, the next event the client usually must attend is mediation, which is a form of settlement conference that can take half a day or a full day. If the case does not settle, the next step for the client would be attending trial. Usually clients appear in court every day their case is on trial; however, sometimes exceptions are made if the client cannot get the time off work from a new employer, or has some other reason. So, basically, after we take the case, the client only gets involved a few times over the months we are prosecuting the claims, though the attorneys may be making numerous court appearances, exchanging correspondences and moving the case along.
In conclusion, if you feel you have a legal claim against an employer, you should consult an attorney without delay because the law limits the amount of time you have to sue, and if you wait to long, you might forfeit valuable legal claims.