There are many factors as to why and for what an employment lawsuit or claim should settle. Today we are going to break that down a bit.
What is my employment case worth?
Best Employment Lawyer Answer: It depends. If you actually find an article online or a part of a Google search telling you what your employment lawsuit is specifically worth, ignore it and everything it tells you. The article is either written by a non-attorney looking for clicks or a bad (and unethical) attorney seeking to attract clients by over promising from the start.
There are so many factors that go into evaluating a particular case that it is irresponsible to generalize what a particular case might be worth.
One of the biggest factors that is not talked about in determining the value of an employment lawsuit is the employee’s rights attorney and law firm that you hire. Employers will always consider the experience and resources of the other side when deciding whether to settle and for how much. If your former employer sees a small law firms or sole practitioners that do not have the resources, trial experience, and employment law focus and experience, they may instruct their big firm attorneys to pound away until that attorney can no longer handle or give up before having to face a jury. On the other hand, when confronted with a large employment law dedicated firm with a history of getting juries to award large verdicts, your former employer has to take the claims more seriously.
Obviously, the type of case makes a big difference to value. A race discrimination will not be worth the same as a religious discrimination with a failure to accommodate claim, which will not be worth the same as an overtime violation claim or sexual harassment lawsuit. (Best Law Read: What Damages Can I Get For Wage Violations And Retaliation Under FLSA?; What Kind Of Damages Can You Get For Wrongful Termination And Discrimination?). Importantly, each of these claims will have to be considered under different laws, which allow for different types of damages. For example, Ohio laws dealing with Workers’ Compensation retaliation cases will not let employees recover emotional distress damages for being wrongfully fired but will provide for automatic attorneys’ fees. On the other hand, a gender discrimination claim under Title VII does allow recovery of emotional distress damages, but attorneys’ fees are not automatic. (Best Law Read: Top Race Discrimination Lawyer Reply: Can I Get Emotional Distress Damages?). The complexities and intricacies of employment laws are why you need to seek out the most qualified employee’s rights law firm as opposed to a small shop that just does some employment law matters.
Damages also will depend on your particular circumstances regarding how your employment ended and what happened next. Were you fired or did you quit, and if so, under what circumstances? How much were you being paid when your employment ended and what benefits were you receiving? How easy should it be for you to have found a new job, and when did you? These are important factors to help evaluate what your case may be worth. (Best Law Read: How Is Back Pay Calculated In Wrongful Termination Cases?; Can I Get Front Pay After Being Wrongfully Fired?; Wrongful Termination Claim: Why Looking For A New Job Is So Important).
Another important factor in determining the value of your case is venue, which is a legal term meaning the location your case will be heard. Most people understand that a case heard in California will be worth more on average than a case decided in Ohio or Michigan, for example. However, cases heard in different parts of the same state will hold vastly different values based on the varying political views and average household earnings of the jurors in that district. For example, a race discrimination case will be worth more in a venue where more people of color will likely be on the jury and relate to the employee than in a district or county where there is very little diversity in the community. Likewise, jurors with lower income tend to award less than juries comprised of higher earners based on how they value money.
Another factor that will play into how much an employer is willing to spend to resolve the case is what lawyers call the cost of defense. (Best Law Read: What Is The Cost To Defend An Employment Lawsuit?). This factor also ties back to the attorney you choose to represent you – does that attorney have a history of engaging in comprehensive written discovery, take all the depositions necessary, identify and hire expert witnesses, if necessary, try cases all the way through trial, and appeal should there be a bad result. The more that employers expect to spend, the more willing they may be to consider settlement early in the process.
While there are many more factors that may come into play based on the facts of your case, I will address one additional big factor – how likely are you to win your case based on the evidence that is and may be available plays a critical role in the value of your case. Cases that are more likely to win obviously have more value. Some of the evidence that will be used to evaluate this factor will not be learned until the lawsuit is filed, and discovery is permitted. To that end, it is irresponsible for any attorney to promise or project a specific case value in an initial intake meeting, much less in a general blog.
Will my former employer settle my employment case?
Best Employment Lawyer Answer: Although there are no guarantees or promises, statistically speaking, yes. Depending upon your source, statistics show that 95 to 98 percent of employment cases settle. Our internal statistics show that our employment lawyer at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm settle about 98-99.5 percent of our cases.
Cases settle when both sides are reasonable about the risk, cost, and consequence of taking a case all the way through trial. Both sides always have risk, which is inherent in our system of justice because judges and especially juries can be very unpredictable. Both sides can feel very confident about their case, but sometimes a judge or a jury will do funny things. (Best Law Read: Trial Judge Reversed For Saying Epilepsy Not A Protected Disability At Work; +++ ; Still Have Age Discrimination Case After Texting Boss “F*ck You”? Yep). For the most part, our employee’s rights lawyers try cases when one party is being unreasonably confident or overvaluing their position. Don’t get me wrong, our team of attorneys love to stand in front of a jury and try the case. Quite frankly, aside from changing the world and fighting discrimination, trying a case in front of a jury is my favorite part of being a lawyer. But we only get there when something goes wrong, and for the most part, it is when a defendant refuses to be reasonable and would rather spend a couple hundred thousand dollars to save the last ten to fifteen thousand needed to settle a case.
Just this weekend, I came across a South Carolina news article that illustrates this point. Although this was a medical malpractice injury case, the settlement concept applies. The article provides:
Thapa’s attorney, Brandon Thompson, said the defendants never pursued an out-of-court settlement.
“They made it clear that there was no intention to offer any money to resolve this case,” Thompson said.
Without getting into the facts of the case, this means that the Defendant saw absolutely no risk of losing and was willing to spend over $300,000 to defend the case through trial. To be clear, Defendants opted to spend more than $300,000 to defend the case instead of offering that amount to settle the case. Now, I’m not saying that the plaintiff would have taken it, but for a defendant to make no effort to settle that case says that the defendant is so confident that they see absolutely no risk whatsoever. Needless to say, given the point of this blog, that defendant was wrong. How wrong? The jury awarded the plaintiff $111 million. Oops.
How do I sue my former employer for wrongfully firing me?
Best Employment Lawyer Answer: To get the most value out of your wrongful termination, wage, FMLA, sexual harassment or discrimination case based on race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability, research the attorneys that you are considering to find the law firm with the most experience, resources and employment law knowledge to give you everything you need to fight your case against your former employer. At Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, you can schedule a free and confidential consultation. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?) Call our lawyers in Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Toledo and Cincinnati to get help now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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