Losing your job is always stressful, but it can be particularly traumatic when your employer lets you go for unfair reasons. In such a case, many people decide to pursue the issue legally, usually by asking for compensation from their former employer. No matter what your situation is, hiring a wrongful termination attorney can make the difference between walking out empty-handed and winning maximum compensation.
But it’s important to pick a competent lawyer to make sure you get the best deal possible. When picking someone to represent you during a wrongful termination case, there are several factors to consider, including credentials, local experience, and the level of service provided. Read on to find out how you can hire a competent lawyer for your case.
Wrongful Termination Explained
There are several reasons why a termination may be unlawful. One of the most common issues is discrimination, whether this is due to race, age, religion, or gender. This type of wrongful termination includes being let go due to a planned or actual pregnancy and is present if someone has discriminated against you because of a mental or physical disability.
Another common issue is that employers sometimes let people go as a form of retaliation, for example, if the employee has taken legitimate sick leave, complained about sexual harassment in the workplace, or filed a personal injury claim. This, as well as any breach of employment contract, is not permissible and can be fought in court.
Choosing a Good Wrongful Termination Attorney
In case you’ve recently been let go and believe that one of the above situations applies to your case, it’s time to contact a reputable attorney. But how can you know whether the professional you’re considering will be competent and have your best interests at heart? Let’s go through some criteria you should consider when hiring your lawyer.
The first thing to look out for is whether your attorney has the right credentials, which may include a high-quality and ongoing education, time spent working on various aspects of the law, and lots of experience with cases similar to yours. The best lawyers are passionate and dedicated about their field and spend a lot of time immersed in activities related to their area of practice.
For example, they may be part of professional groups and regularly attend classes or seminars to stay up to date in their field. Another indicator of passion and skill is if they are involved in pro bono activities. Sometimes, these facts can be gleaned from a law firm’s website, but if not, don’t be shy about calling and asking. Remember, it’s better to do your due diligence at the beginning than to wait and regret your choice later on.
Experience in the Local Area
There are certain federal laws related to employment, but many are regulated by the state or even local ordinances. For example, employees generally work at will in Missouri, which means that termination is possible at any time unless there is a contract. Because of this fact, many employees believe that they can’t sue their employer, even if they were let go for less than ethical reasons.
But this is not true and there are still cases in which disputes can be successful, especially if discrimination was at play or if the employee was asked to commit a crime. Because of such nuances, consulting with an experienced lawyer who knows the local laws is crucial before making a decision. In many cases, the first consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose.
Although it’s not always discussed, feeling comfortable with your chosen attorney is crucial. You need to be able to trust the person because you are placing a very important matter that can change your life into their hands. You should also feel confident about asking any questions and voicing your concerns. The best lawyers will be aggressive and fierce when dealing with your opponents, but kind and empathetic when interacting with you.
At your initial meeting, determine whether this is a person you would like to work with. The best lawyer can be a terrible fit for you if you can’t work well together, and it’s better to pay attention to this at the very beginning. Choose someone who is not only competent and experienced but who also feels like a good fit.
Communication and Customer Service
When seeking compensation for wrongful termination, you may have some questions and concerns, especially if your case is more complex. That’s why it’s crucial that your chosen law firm provides great communication and a high level of customer service. Your wrongful termination attorney may work on many cases at once, so you can’t expect an instant reply. However, they should get back to you within 1-3 business days, and faster if the query is urgent.
Fortunately, communication style is easy to figure out at the beginning of the process. Pay attention to how the law firm responds to your initial request and, once your first consultation is over, whether they follow up quickly. If so, it’s reasonable to assume that the system of communication works well and you won’t run into problems later on.
Some law firms have unclear or even unfair billing practices, so it’s important to know what to expect before you hire someone. In most cases, you shouldn’t have to pay for your first appointment, as it serves to find out whether you have a viable case and are comfortable working with the lawyer in question. Your law firm should also be able to give you an estimate of what the whole process will cost before getting started.
The most reputable firms are confident in their ability to produce results, so they may not charge you at all unless they can recover damages. This means that they only get paid if you win your case, which will make the attorney in question even more eager to help you. It also takes financial pressure off you because you don’t need to worry about paying your law firm while you’re already in a complex and stressful situation.
Finally, you may not be a native English speaker, in which case it is important that your lawyer speaks your first language. Some law firms offer service in Spanish, which can be very helpful to Hispanic people seeking compensation for wrongful termination. If this is your situation, look for a firm that offers a bilingual service, which will make it much easier for you to interact with your lawyer.
What to Expect From Your Case
Remember that you can only claim for wrongful termination in the Employment Tribunal for three months and in the courts for six years, so make sure to contact your attorney on time. Once you’ve met with a competent lawyer and discussed the case, it may take 12 to 20 months for a verdict, depending on whether you file the complaint in a federal or state court and how complex the matter is.
When you win, your former employer will have to pay you damages, whether they are regarded as compensation for losses you incurred or punitive due to outrageous behavior. In case you’d like your old job back, the court may rule in favor of this and have you reinstated.
If you’ve been let go from work due to discrimination or retaliation, don’t hesitate to speak to a wrongful termination attorney. You may be owed money for the losses you incurred as a result. Contact Holman Schiavone in Kansas City, MO, today to schedule your initial appointment. Our team of experienced and compassionate lawyers is here to help you receive the compensation you deserve.