It’s important to be aware of the following three typical misconceptions that many wrongful termination claimants have, so that you don’t have the same incorrect ideas about the process of pursuing your case:
1.”This is not about money, but about justice”. I hear this statement quite often. Clients really want to emphasize that they are not greedy and that they have a higher goal in pursuing their case. However, you must remember that whether you win your case, or lose, or settle out of court, your employer is most likely not going to admit that they made a mistake, and they are not going to apologize to you. They are also not going to be forced by court or anyone else to change their practices except for in very special circumstances. This is means that the only remedy you have for the violation committed by the employer is monetary compensation. In other words, it is about money now – it’s about you seeking monetary compensation for your job loss and any related losses. This is a perfectly legitimate goal, even if it doesn’t sound as noble as seeking “justice”.
The same applies to the idea of pursuing a case because you don’t want your employer to “get away with what they have done.” Your managers are not going to go to jail for terminating you and they are otherwise unlikely to be punished, since the employer usually believes that they are right and you are wrong, just as strongly as you believe that the opposite is true. And if they end up paying a settlement or a court verdict, their operations will continue as usual. Your case is not about punishing your former employer, but about seeking maximum reward and benefit for yourself. This is a good time to be selfish and worry about how you can benefit from your case, rather than how much you are going to make the other side lose.
2.”My employer will settle quickly because they will want to avoid bad publicity”. Most employers, especially larger employers, really don’t care about publicity. They all have dozens or more claims of all types filed against them, and unless your case involves truly sensational facts, publicity is not going to be a factor in their litigation and settlement strategy. This is especially true in larger metropolitan areas where you case is very unlikely to make any type of news, unless you yourself are some kind public figure or a celebrity.
3.”My case is perfect and I am guaranteed to win”. No case is perfect, and pretty much every employment case has good facts and bad facts. This is just the nature of employment law. It’s good to be optimistic and confident in your case, but assuming that your victory is guaranteed is a bad idea, as it will make you lose sight of potential weaknesses in your case that you might not seeing because of your overconfidence, and which the other side will try to exploit. If you are working with a good employment attorney, he will most definitely play a devil’s advocate when asking you about your case, trying to identify those weaknesses. Don’t be discouraged by this, but consider yourself lucky that you found a lawyer who is attentive and who knows what he is doing. It’s best that he learns of any weaknesses in your case as early as possible so that you both can determine whether your case is truly worth pursuing, and if so – how to deal with those challenging facts in your case. The better you are prepared to deal with potential issues in your case, the better you will do at your deposition or in court.