Too often, clients treat their employment lawsuits as if they are lottery tickets or future annuities.    Remember, these lawsuits are intended to make you whole for the discrimination/retaliation/harassment you suffered- not just be a windfall of money and riches (although some wind up that way).  Juries decide these awards, not the lawyers.  So, it is important to understand that you want to put your damage claims to the jury in the best light possible.  Avoid making these mistakes to hurt your claim:

 

1.       Don’t stop looking for a new job-  Remember, because juries decide these cases, there is no guarantee that things will go your way.  Therefore, we always encourage our clients to move on with their lives, as if the lawsuit against the former employer doesn’t exist.  This is important, because it shows the jury that you are making efforts to move forward with your life and not sitting and waiting for a paycheck from them.  It is also important because the law requires you to make efforts to “mitigate” or lessen your damages by looking for other work.  Make sure you keep track of all of your efforts to find work such as date applied, name of employer, and response, if any.

2.       Do not post things about your lawsuit on social media or in text messages or emails-  This sounds like a no brainer, but we have seen the occasional client who wants to brag to the world and their friends that they “are going to get rich” from suing their former employer for unlawful conduct.  The employer’s lawyer is entitled to all of this information and will ask for it during the lawsuit.  If you have put something silly in writing, rest assured that the jury will see that as well.  And, when that happens, your damages will disappear quickly.

3.       Do not lie on your tax returns, unemployment documents, or other government submissions- Juries look for reasons not to award damages to employment litigants, and one of the easiest ways to hurt your claims, is to lie on your tax return or other sworn documents about deductions, tax write offs, dependents, etc.  The thinking goes like this – if you are willing to lie to the federal government, you are likely to lie to us the jury.  Trust me, it makes it very difficult as your lawyer to take the position that “everyone lies a little.”  This is not a great defense and certainly will harm your case.  Be truthful, and do not give the defense lawyer any ammunition to pick you apart in front of the jury.

4.       Don’t spend more than you have-  While this tip doesn’t really apply to the protection aspect of your lawsuit, it is important to remember this point for your own personal well being.  Oftentimes, clients think they are going to get a large sum of money for their case, so they buy a new car, a new tv, go on a spending spree, etc.  Piece of advice-  don’t do this.  Until you have your jury award in your hand, anything can happen (appeals, bankruptcy of the employer), and you don’t want to make your situation any worse than it already is.  Be smart with your money and don’t count on a lawsuit as your savior.  If you win and it comes, you will be all the much better off.

5.       Don’t be frivolous with your damage claims-  As lawyers, we need to present to the jury exactly what type of damages the client has suffered.  The best way to do this is with help from the client.  If you have been wrongfully terminated and you are pursuing a claim for damages, keep a written tally of the damages you have suffered from loss of 401k to unable to pay your mortgage, to credit card debt (along with the invoices and documents supporting the claim), and present this to your lawyer on a regular basis.  This way, when it is time to go to trial, your lawyer has a method for explaining, to the dollar, how you have been injured.  If, however, you don’t keep this type of record, and then just ask the jury to award you an amount without support, the jury is going to be more suspicious and speculative of awarding you a big amount, because there is no proof of the damages.  Details win large jury verdicts- not guesswork.