sue your bossSo you want to sue your employer for racial discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower retaliation, failure to pay you your last paycheck, what have you. Now what? Here are five tips all clients should keep in mind before they pick up the phone to call a lawyer.

Tip 1: Write it, don’t say it. People think it’s enough to complain, request or report things orally to their employer. They complain about discrimination to HR over the phone. Or they tell their supervisor about a health and safety code violation. Well, what are you going to do when HR or the supervisor denies you ever talked with them? Don’t believe it? Happens all the time. Avoid the “he said, she said” by communicating with your employer by emails or send letters (certified mail, return receipt requested). By doing this, you create a record.

Tip 2: Keep a journal. Don’t rely on memory, write everything down. The names of witnesses, dates, times, places, what was said, documents involved – the more detailed the better. And be professional about it. Don’t write that your boss is a %*&@! in the journal, because the journal could become evidence. Another thing, don’t leave the journal on your desk or in your desk drawer at work where your boss can find it. You might end up fired and your lawsuit dead.

Tip 3: Get witnesses. Emails, memos and letters are one form of key evidence in a lawsuit. Witnesses are the other. When your boss calls you a racial slur, pats you on the rear, or threatens to fire you because you reported him for illegal activity, talk to whoever witnessed it. Confirm whether they saw it. Try to get them on your side. Do this carefully and your case will have just gotten a lot stronger.

Tip 4: Don’t play lawyer. So you went to the internet and learned that “retaliation”, “hostile work environment” and “whistleblowing” are magic words. That doesn’t mean you should go waving those terms around in your emails and conversations at the workplace like your sword and shield. Don’t play lawyer. Chances are, your employer’s lawyer will be better at it than you are and if, as is likely, you get it all wrong, you’re the one who could come off looking like the bully, not the employer. Get a lawyer instead.

Tip 5: Don’t get mad, get even (or turn the other cheek). You’re being treated outrageously by your co-workers, your supervisors or the owners of your company, or maybe all of them. You’re depressed, scared and . . . spitting mad! To quote Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, you want to take a flamethrower to the place! That’s fine if you want to end up in jail and without a lawsuit. Otherwise, take a deep breath, follow tips 1 to 4, and call an attorney. That momentary lapse where you curse your boss out like a sailor in front of your entire office could mean you no longer have a case.

More tips to come, but if you follow these five, you will be way ahead of the game. And your lawyer will thank you for it.

14 Comments

  1. hanerykroze on February 24, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    hello,
    Do not sue your boss. If you are innocent then you must consult to the lawyer. He can help you to get your rights. Mark Barber Law is the best experienced lawyer in Wichita Falls,TX. He is expert in all these cases. I was also on the same stage,then I consult to Mark Barber Law and he sort out all my problems.

  2. Edith on September 18, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I work for a mobile company and they said we would get paid every 15 of each month. It is the 18 and still no pay and now they are saying they need another week. What can I do? Is this against the LAW

  3. Jerri L Newsome on July 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I went for a drug test n when I asked for my water bcause I couldent pp, the girl yelled at me no u cant have any more water, I was like what ok I sat donw than I proceeded to tell her every other clinic I have ever been to has let us have more water , well they said protacall is 40 oz, so I waited to go, n I said I should try now , she said if u cant go we have to keep u here so I waited , well I don’t think she should of yelled at me, well the ey pulled me in the office n asked me what the problem was I was like what, n I told my boss I was going to report her to her coporate office I was seriouley going to do that anyway bcause of the way she yelleld at me, n my boss said I would b in more troublalle with my co if I reported her for verberballey assaulting me

  4. Bonnie Currie on June 16, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    the attorney i work for yelled at me, degraded me and called me names in front of everyone at the office. she has been bullying me since she started working there. HR called me today on a sunday at 6pm and told me to come into the hr office at 1:30 pm. i asked if they were firing me she said no that she just wanted to speak with me and find out what happened. I’m really stressed out. I’m going into emergency now because I had a panic/anxiety attack 10 minutes ago and I can’t take it anymore. can they fire me if I get on disability? If my doctor takes me out for a few weeks due to stress?

  5. Syohanna on February 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

    everyone is getting double OT but me because I am contractor. Doing exactly the same work but getting 13.40 per hour. is that fair?

  6. T_sylvia720 on October 30, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I just quit a job tonight. I worked at a bar. The employer wouldn’t let us clock in if it wasn’t busy, but we couldn’t leave, often waiting up to 4 or 5 hours just sitting there unpaid, sometimes to be sent home without working at all. Also, he made the women dress up for halloween, hoping their sexuality would raise money, but the men were allowed to wear jeans and a t-shirt. And on top of that, he has sat around with a gun in his hand numerous times, making many people including myself very nervous. I have other cocktail waitresses and ex-cocktail waitresses willing to witness if I sue. I also have a work journal, dating and describing everything that happens at work. Two days ago, he told me I had to work even though I had a 101.6 degree fever, or I would be fired, and then told me I was losing my days off because they were throwing parties and he wanted all the cocktails working. Through all of this, he spoke to me as if I were an idiot. Are these grounds for suing? Would I win in court?

  7. Meatdm on September 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I worked for this company for 7 days and realized the commission basis was far too extreme (collection agency) I contacted the other company that wanted to hire me and they agreed to my salary requirements. I quit the other job, offering a 2 week notice which they declined, and it has been 2 weeks now, no paycheck. I have been calling (recording sez calls not being accepted) and finally I drove all the way over there (30 miles) and doors locked. HELP! I am our almost $800.00!

  8. dick on September 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I think that their is always going bad employers out their some were. So we just need to stick together and try to make something positive happen.

  9. Mother Teresa on March 2, 2011 at 4:41 am

    When you sue a small business you put dozens of people out of work to satisfy the frivilous claims of those who never missed a paycheck to cover payroll, took a risk, or helped anyone but themselves. Shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Installer_mss on April 9, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      So you believe that small business owners should be able to get away with skating the law or breaking it because them being sued could jeopardise others’ jobs? It’s the owner’s responsibility to follow laws and think of the people they employ rather than their personal agendas. While going beyond what is necessary to punish an employer is exactly that, others shouldn’t be off the hook.

    • Smileicious on July 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      No mother Theresa!! If the employer is breaking the law like mine is…in many ways… then SHUT THE PLACE DOWN, penalize the owner/boss and do whats right!!!  Its people like you that just let it keep happening and don’t do any thing about it. So Shame on YOU Mother Theresa for not helping the little people and sticking up for the corrupted and illegal doers!!!!

  10. Atalice2001 on August 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    how can i find i good labor law attorney? Fresno area

    • Cat Stoffel on August 29, 2020 at 1:35 pm

      I am going to put this out there and see what I get. I have been harassed for five years by a co-worker and employer.
      Co-worker: will not work with me on the level of co-workers, excluding me as part of the team. Making comments that are demeaning, unprofessional, discriminatory, unfounded complaints, questions my professional decision and choices, telling me to conform to what she wants, asking when I’m going to retire. This is just a beginning.
      Employer: does not support with family crisis, instead used it to demote, cut my pay, cut my work days. No explanation, no write ups, refused to sit down or respond either in write after numerous requests. Responding to the complaint of the above said co- worker never had mediation upon request, no follow up, I was made to take two webinars with no follow up, was told by employer that company lawyers said it was a witch hunt, yet I was not supposed by employer, behavior was just move forward, again no follow up upon request. Employer moved me to another position at a different site and not in my degree, no explanation after requesting to have something in writing numbers times only to be told no, that to move forward and quit asking, that’s that. When asked who would take my position (I am a specialist) her comment was we will get someone a lot cheaper than you. Placing me in a position that is primarily Spanish speaking, work hour change, that is not conducive to previous 11 years.
      I have to be put on anxiety medication and in counseling due to five years of the following: age discrimination, negative employment action, harassment, hostility, physical (rude demeaning comments),deformation and mental stress. I am 67 and wanted to retire at 70, I am being forced out of my position, moved unwilling with no reason. I don’t know if I have cause or reason but I am not the first one and don’t want anyone to have to go through anything like this. Other employees are reluctant to step for because retaliation. The put up and shut up rule is illegal. What I would like to out of this is my 3 years I had planned on getting along with my 3 more years of calstars. Please advise retire and move forward or fight this injustice. I am an emotional wreak.

  11. Los Angeles Lawyer on January 14, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Excellent advice, unfortunately, a man’s word doesn’t often times hold up any longer, true written or printed proof along with witnesses carries much more weight.

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