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The process of valuing an employment dispute

When you take a vehicle to a Washington D.C. area car dealer and ask for a valuation, you expect tires to be kicked and mileage to be examined, among other things. A similar kind of evaluation takes place when you go into an employment law attorney’s office to discuss a potential claim against an employer.

Whether the problem involves a dispute over the Family Medical Leave Act, an employment contract, wrongful discharge, workplace discrimination or sexual harassment, an attorney will look at the evidence and facts and then try to help you understand what your claim might be worth to you.

An important part of that process is setting realistic expectations. The nonprofit workers’ rights advocacy organization workplacefairness.org notes that “many people are surprised to find out that their case may not be worth as much as they think it should be worth.”

While the loss of a job might well have an enormous financial impact on your life, the firing itself must be examined to see if it violated law. In many cases, an employer is within his or her rights to fire an employee for virtually any reason, though they cannot discriminate on the basis of gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.  

An experienced employment law attorney assesses a number of factors, including:

  • Employer (assets, likelihood of negotiating a fair settlement, history, and so on)
  • Your wages and benefits (the more you earned, the greater your potential damages)
  • Estimated cost of bringing your claim to court, as well as estimated cost in hours and resources of engaging in negotiations
  • An estimation of how long it might take to favorably resolve a case

It’s also important to note that in a first meeting with an attorney, you might not get an estimate of what you might receive from a claim. After all, you are presenting your side of the matter, and an attorney is likely to need more information before estimating recovery.

We will discuss case valuation again in a future blog post.

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