7 important things to know about employee lawsuits.

AuthorHyman, Jon
PositionWHAT I WOULDN'T DO: Legal Updates from HR's Trenches

Lawsuits. If you have employees, you have a risk to be sued by them. Even if you do everything legally, correctly and "by the book," a disgruntled worker can still find a lawyer to file their claim. If you've never been through the painful experience of an employment lawsuit, here are seven unexpected things to expect:

  1. It will cost a lot. A business should expect to spend between $50,000 and $150,000 defending a lawsuit brought by an ex-employee. The more complex or combative the case, the more you should expect it to cost.

  2. It will be time-consuming. You will spend too much time meeting with your attorney to provide background information, gather documents, answer discovery requests, attend pre-trials and settlement conferences, and make employees available for depositions (including the extensive pre-deposition prep). In addition to fees you pay your attorney, you face significant costs in lost productivity.

  3. It will last longer than you think it should. Litigation is a marathon, not a sprint, and the finish line is often a moving target. Deadlines are typically far in the future and often extended. And the longer it takes, the more expensive it usually is. COVID has only made this worse.

  4. Your employees will not be perfect witnesses. No witness is perfect. Most are far from it. All will make mistakes. Some will be small (a date), some larger (a key fact forgotten in a deposition), and some will be devastating. (I once had a CEO very unexpectedly admit to age discrimination on the witness stand at trial... case closed.) You can over-prepare your witnesses (see #1 and #2), but you cannot prepare for how someone will hold up under the intense pressure of a deposition or trial.

  5. You are not...

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