Being fired from a job is one of life’s most difficult events. If you feel like you’ve been wrongfully terminated, one option is to sue your former employer. Bringing a wrongful termination lawsuit can right a wrong, but it can also bring back painful memories.
In this two part series, I’ll give you an inside look into some of the legal procedures that could make a wrongful termination case stressful for clients and ways that wrongfully terminated people can work with their lawyers to make their case against their former employers as strong as possible.
Once a lawsuit is filed, your lawyer and your employer’s lawyer will start a process called discovery. Discovery usually begins by serving written questions and requests for documents on the parties to the lawsuit. While answering these questions and gathering documents can be time consuming, it is often key to establishing the case against a former employer.
This time period, while stressful, is an opportunity to work together with your lawyer to build a strong foundation for your case, and to make things extremely tough on your former employer.
Discovery is followed by an on-the-record interview called a deposition. In a deposition, your former employer’s attorney will ask you questions about your case, often for several hours straight. This session is usually videotaped. You will probably be asked about your written answers to questions and about the documents you produced in discovery. You are also likely to be asked questions about documents from your personnel file. Your lawyer will
be there to make sure your former employer’s lawyer’s questions are allowed under your state’s discovery rules, but there will be no judge or jury present in the room.
Fortunately, discovery is a two-way street, and your lawyer has the chance to ask written questions and take depositions as well. This time period is an opportunity to work together with your lawyer to build a strong foundation for your case, and you and your lawyer should be extremely thorough about who and what you identify as necessary to prove your case. As long as it is reasonable, most judges will permit a person suing a company a lot of leeway in who they ask to be made available for a deposition and what documents they require your former employer to provide to you. As you can imagine, it is expensive and time consuming for your former employer to deliver boxes of specific documents to you, and for their senior managers to spend time preparing for and attending depositions.
In part two of these series, I’ll talk about ways that you can work with your attorney during discovery and deposition to help bring about a better outcome for your case.