You feel your rights have been violated at work, you’ve done a thorough job researching your issue, and you think you have a good case to pursue against your employer. Now what? It can be hard to find a qualified and experienced attorney as there are few employment lawyers that work on behalf of employees compared to how many work for employers. Follow these five steps to make sure that your claim has the greatest chance of success.
1. Have A Conversation With Your Employer
First, you should file your statement of complaint with the human resources department at your company. Filing with HR first can sometimes provide a temporary or even permanent solution to the issue. You may also want to speak with your boss to see if the issue can be resolved before moving forward with a formal complaint. Make sure to stay professional and polite and avoid personal attacks. Keep a written record of all conversations and try not to gossip with your co-workers about the situation. If a conversation occurs, follow up via email with a summary of that conversation.
2. Determine If Your Employer Is Bound By Federal Law
The Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and a few other federal laws govern employers that engage in interstate commerce. If you’re not sure about your company, call the Wages and Hours Division of the Department of Labor, and they will tell you. They will also tell you if you need to file a state claim before proceeding with a federal claim as sometimes all state remedies must be exhausted before you can file at the federal level. Experienced employment lawyers can be particularly useful at this stage.
3. Gather Together All Required Information
When preparing to file your complaint, make sure you have gathered all of the required information. You will need your contact information as well as your employer’s, and documentation that shows your position and pay. The court will look more favorably on written documents and evidence such as wage stubs, work transcripts, hiring and/or firing forms, and any relevant receipts. If you have any witness statements, employment lawyers will advise you to get these in writing.
4. File The Formal Complaint
When it’s time to file with the appropriate government agency, you will generally start with the agency that governs your type of claim depending on if you are alleging discrimination, unfair hiring practices, workplace safety issues, etc. You will then be directed to your local office. An investigation will be conducted, and a determination made if your employer is liable. Based on that determination, a remedy may be issued such as an award for damages or an order for a change in the employer’s work policies.
5. Follow The Progress Of The Complaint
If no violation is found, or you and your employer were not able to reach a settlement, then it is up to you to decide if you want to pursue private action. Interviewing employment lawyers at this point and having them review your case is likely your best solution.
Following these five steps should help you build the most successful employment case.