You will make better decisions concerning your employment situation, if you
consider the practical realities and difficulties in pursuing an
employment discrimination case.
Some complainants develop unrealistic expectations about the monetary value
of their cases. This may occur a result of news publicity about other cases
where large amounts of money were awarded to complainants. What they may not
consider adequately is that for each case where a large amount of money was
won, there were more cases where small amounts of money were recovered, or
the cases were unsuccessful. A reason that million dollar verdicts are in the
news is because they are relatively unusual.
Some complainants expect employers to settle discrimination cases quickly
due to fear of publicity. But some employers believe that if they
settle discrimination cases easily, it will encourage more employees to
complain of discrimination. Many employers take the position that they will
"vigorously defend" against discrimination complaints. This means that
they will retain large law firms to defend them, and they will not settle
if at all
until late in the litigation process when the evidence indicates that they
may lose the case. News organizations are
not usually interested in covering discrimination complaints unless they
are unusual, or evidence of unlawful discrimination is apparent, or there
has been a large monetary award. Complainants should consider that
if they can't pay for attorney fees and litigation costs, it may be hard
to find an attorney who will represent them. Litigation is very expensive
and time-consuming, and the employer usually has much greater financial
resources than the complainant.
Some complainants may not adequately consider what may be legitimate,
non-discriminatory reasons for the employment actions that they challenge.
In an employment discrimination case the complainant has the burden of
proof to show that the employer violated the law by discriminating against
them due to their protected basis. It is not enough that the employment
situation is unfair, it has to be unlawful for the complainant to win the case. In most cases,
there are facts and arguments to support both of the opposing
parties, and the issues are ultimately decided by judges or juries who
may reach different conclusions. It is difficult to predict with certainty
how particular cases will be decided in court, or to determine the monetary
value of cases.
This reality check is not intended to discourage complainants from pursuing
discrimination complaints, but rather is intended to encourage them to
carefully and realistically evaluate all aspects of their cases, including
strengths and weaknesses, and monetary value. Since complainants are
usually under duress from their employment problems and not completely
knowledgeable of the law, it is advisable for
them to consult with other persons, and to seek legal advice from their own
attorney about the best course of action to follow.