It is important to get an attorney to help you with your employment claims, be it for race or religious discrimination, sexual harassment, or especially an overtime pay violation. But not just any attorney or law firm will do. Bad things happen when you hire the wrong attorney because you were wrongfully fired or forced to retire. (Best Law Read: Why Having Skilled Employment Attorneys Is Critical; Employment Law: Avoid Hiring The Wrong Attorney). Keeping in mind that your employer is going to hire a strong law firm full of attorneys to fight your employment discrimination or whistleblower claim, you need the biggest, baddest, and best dedicated employee’s rights firm that you can find. And there is no reason not to when it won’t cost you a dime out of your own pocket. (Best Law Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?).
The latest example of bad lawyering comes to us from Crews v. Austin, No. 22-6028, 2022 WL 4127204, at *1 (10th Cir. Sept. 12, 2022), a recent case out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. In this case, Tawanna Crews hired a lawyer and sued her former employer, the United States Department of Defense. A few months after the lawsuit was filed, the DOD moved to dismiss the case by way of summary judgment because Crews failed to exhaust her administrative remedies – which, if true, is a complete failure by an attorney regarding the basic concepts regarding the process for employment laws. This is a problem that demonstrates that when interviewing attorneys for your employment discrimination case, you never want to hire the one that says, “sure, I can handle something like that,” or “yeah, I’ve done a couple of those.” You want to hire a lawyer that focuses entirely on employee’s rights because that employment law lawyer will know the intricacies of the employment laws and procedures at issue.
The next big attorney screwup in Crews was that the lawyer never responded to the DOD’s motion for summary judgment, which meant that is it was unopposed, and the district court did not even need to consider the merits when it entered judgment in favor of the employer. Even worse, when the judgment against her client was entered, this attorney never did anything for a full year. Then on the exact one-year anniversary of her blowing the case, the attorney moved the district court to vacate the judgment by generically arguing without any medical documentation that her failure to properly handle the case was based on “complications related to a COVID-19 infection that impacted [counsel’s] entire immediate family and negatively affected the function of counsel’s cardiovascular system.” When that excuse did not appear to gain traction, this lawyer threw more poop against the wall hoping that something would stick: “In reply, Crews’s counsel asserted she suffered ‘severe brain fog, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and chronic pain’ for ‘several months,’ developed an irregular heartbeat, and had to care for her sick mother and ‘a terminally ill close relative’ who died in late-January 2021.” When these new arguments also appeared likely to fall short, the attorney submitted three months of medical records – but none that covered the period where she failed to properly to the motion for summary judgment. Instead, she only submitted medical records staring a few weeks before she filed the motion to vacate – which appears to me that it was created just for the purposes of supporting the motion to vacate. Needless to say, neither the district court nor the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit bought these excuses, which meant that Crews lost her claims because of bad lawyering.
The last takeaway from this case, is that instead of hiring a solo attorney or small law firm (1-4 attorneys with limited staff) to handle your employment discrimination or wrongful firing case, hire the largest employee’s rights dedicated law firm that you can because it will have the resources to put several lawyers, case managers, and other staff on your case that will prevent any problems from falling through the cracks. Larger employment law firms not only have the resources to go toe to toe with any firm that your employer may choose to hire, but that firms that have grown larger based on their success will have the respect of opposing counsel, your former employer and the courts.
So, if you have faced discrimination at work because of your race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. (Read: Why Having Skilled Employment Attorneys Is Critical). Call our lawyers in Ohio, Michigan, and Raleigh 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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