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Old 09-12-2009, 12:11 PM
 
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Default Suing For Wrongful Termination

Has anyone ever sued their previous employer? I wanted to know if there are any cons to suing your former employer such as other job prospects finding out.
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Old 09-12-2009, 01:18 PM
 
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If you work in the type of industry where everyone knows everyone else, you had better have a good enough case to win lots of money--many years of income worth--because you're committing career suicide otherwise.
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Old 09-12-2009, 05:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
If you work in the type of industry where everyone knows everyone else, you had better have a good enough case to win lots of money--many years of income worth--because you're committing career suicide otherwise.
Oh no, I don't even plan on working in this industry once I finish my MBA.
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:19 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMG1 View Post
Has anyone ever sued their previous employer? I wanted to know if there are any cons to suing your former employer such as other job prospects finding out.
In the title of your post, you mention suing for "wrongful termination," but you don't specify the reasons given you for the termination. You may not agree with your employer's reasons for terminating you, but the law is very specific about what constitutes "wrongful termination."

Unless you had a written contract with your former employer, in most states you are presumed to be employed "at will." At-will employees may be terminated for any reason, so long as it's not illegal -- and those "illegal reasons" are specific under the law.

For example, employers are not allowed to terminate or discriminate against employees for the following reasons: Age, Race, Sex, Religion, National Origin, Disability, or Pregnancy

And it's illegal for an employer to terminate an employee: for refusing to break a law; in retaliation for filing a discrimination or safety claim; for taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act; without following its own stated procedure or policy; or for reasons not contained in the employment contract, if one exists

So unless your situation falls into one of these categories, it's unlikely you will have a case. You may have a sad situation on your hands -- but whether or not it's actionable under the law is a different matter.

You should consult with an attorney to see if you actually have a case -- particularly before you canvas the neighbors about whether it's a good idea to sue. And be prepared to walk away from the unpleasant experience, and start anew.
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:40 PM
 
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I don't really want to go into details about the reasons but they were definitely invalid and my friend who is a lawyer was actually the one that encouraged me to file a lawsuit against them. The only reason why I'm hesitating now is because I don't want this showing up in public records or be blackballed.
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:01 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMG1 View Post
The only reason why I'm hesitating now is because I don't want this showing up in public records or be blackballed.
Well, once you file a suit, it is a matter of court record -- which is public unless the court seals the record (which is only done under very extreme circumstances).

Unless you feel strongly that the damage done you must be remedied and can only be remedied in a court room, be prepared for the process to drag on, to generate lots of speculation among your former colleagues, and to consume a lot of your time and emotional energy.

Depending how long you worked for this employer, be prepared to explain to potential employers how that job ended -- or if you decide not to include it on your resume, have an explanation for the time gap between other jobs.

While you clearly won't expect a reference from your former employer in any event, many people in your situation do use references from their former colleagues at the company. The odds of that happening will be diminished as people who would normally vouch for you will decide they just don't want to get involved in the face of possible litigation.

The decision to sue is a serious one -- and the emotional and psychological toll, in addition to the residual career damage that you will incur over the extended period such a process can take, should not be underestimated.

Unless -- as annerk already wisely advised -- your case is good enough to get you many years of income. If so, by all means line up a good attorney specializing in employment law and a good psychotherapist -- and have at it!
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:16 PM
 
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My main concern is of the possibility of residual career damage if the company even decided to take it to court (my belief is that more than likely they will settle to avoid bad press and loss of stock since it is a public company) What is a worst case scenario in terms of career damage?
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:28 PM
 
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It really depends. People move around from company to company. People know each other, talk to each other, even if they work in different fields. It's a small world, and with social and professional networking on the Internet, it's getting smaller by the day. Worst case scenario is that you are blackballed for life.
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Old 09-12-2009, 09:38 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
3,814 posts, read 7,646,942 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMG1 View Post
My main concern is of the possibility of residual career damage if the company even decided to take it to court (my belief is that more than likely they will settle to avoid bad press and loss of stock since it is a public company) What is a worst case scenario in terms of career damage?
Don't count on the company being so willing to settle in this economy. They most likely will not want to set a precedent with you -- concerned that other former employers will feel similar suits will be an easy way to make some money.

And remember, neither side benefits from "bad press" -- particularly if you are interviewing with prospective new employers. After you tell the press your side, do you really want the company spinning their version of the situation and of you? Once you open that can of worms, it will be tough to reseal it.

Plus, unless your suit involves widespread company fraud against consumers or the public, or it's a class action suit involving an entire class of people -- it's unlikely it will have any effect on its stock price.

Most large companies of which I am aware have been more likely to simply drag out the process, filing any motions they can as delaying tactics to try to wear down the plaintiff. They have masses of attorneys -- in house and in external law firms -- whose full-time job it is to keep the company out of litigation while preventing it from setting settlement precedents that can be more costly in the long-term.

Spending upwards of 12 to 18 months on something like this is no fun for the plaintiff, and can be costly unless your attorney is working for a contingency fee.

The longer it drags out, the harder it is to concentrate on finding and doing a new job well. Each step in the process refuels the word of mouth, and is a distraction from putting the situation behind you and getting on with your career. This is particularly true if you are the type of person who will feel compelled to respond to everything you hear along the way.

But only you know your ability to tolerate all this -- and whether it would be worth living with a lot of negative info floating around that will inevitably have a damaging effect on your career short-term, and possibly longer if the litigation process is extended.
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Old 09-13-2009, 04:30 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas
7,373 posts, read 12,991,173 times
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He who has the deepest pockets, wins. Unless you have a lot of money or your case is so heinous it will attract the media, you are out of luck.

Chances are you are paying an attorney to handle the case and your funds are limited. If you are suing me, I already have a staff of attorneys working for me. My attorneys will keep your attorney really busy. They will file motions and requests for information each and every day until you run out of money. I will bankrupt you before you get anywhere close to a courtroom. It's not nice and it's not fair but that's the way it works.

Next, you will be branded for years as an employee who sued for wrongful termination. It's not hard to find. Court records are public and all a prospective employer has to do is google you or do a background search.

If you are really going to do this, you had better have a war chest full of money and an air tight case you can get to a courtroom. You need to win a huge settlement that will let you retire for good if necessary.
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