Missouri protects workers with several labor laws designed to prevent harassment and discrimination and ensure fair practices. However, not all employers abide by them. If you are the victim of a rights violation, it’s essential to get legal counsel to understand your options, so it’s best to hire an employment lawyer as soon as you can. No employer can prevent you from filing a complaint with the labor board or even taking your case to a civil court.
6 Things to Expect When Hiring an Employment Lawyer
1. Your Employer or Their Lawyer May Try to Contact You About the Case
Once you hire an employment attorney, it’s time to stop talking about the case to anyone else. Disclosing details about the case to third parties is very risky (remember that whatever you say may be used against you). Never answer questions in the name of politeness. Remember that all you need to say is, “if you need more information, please contact my lawyer.”
It’s important to note that you are not obligated to talk to insurance adjusters without your lawyer present. Your attorney must review all settlement offers.
2. Your Lawyer Will Ask You to Record Every Detail
A lawyer will start by thoroughly reviewing your case. They will ask many questions about things you may find irrelevant but can significantly impact your case’s outcome. Writing things down is an excellent strategy to ensure you don’t forget anything.
Being open and honest with your attorney is very important. Hiding case-relevant information may easily result in losing the case, so disclose everything. Your lawyer is not there to judge you but to represent your best interest. Remember that anything you tell them is protected by attorney-client privilege (meaning that they cannot discuss it with any third parties without your express permission).
3. You’ll Need to Work With the Attorney to Build Your Case
Building the case is a shared responsibility. While your lawyer may be the one who understands the procedural aspects of the law, you are the expert on your situation. Building your case means actively participating in the discovery process (gathering as much evidence as possible), talking to your attorney as soon as something happens that’s case-related, and remembering all the deadlines and court dates. Keep in mind that the success of your case depends on a combination of these factors (you can have extraordinary evidence, but if you miss a filing period or court deadline, it will work against you).
After you hire an attorney, you’ll need to document everything. Keep records of all communications (with your employer, coworkers, related medical professionals, or authorities). Never toss any bills, reports, or other case-related documents without asking your lawyer.
4. You Might Be Called to Court With Little Notice
You need to be available from the moment you start a legal process. The courts have tremendous workloads, and postponing or changing court dates is seldom possible. Think ahead and plan for alternate childcare if you have kids, and speak to your manager at work about having a replacement for you in case you are called to court.
Employment lawyers in Kansas City, MO should provide a backup plan if there’s an emergency and they cannot be reached (for example, if they are in a hearing for another case). Remember that the court must clear attorneys, so this cannot be a last-minute solution.
5. You May Experience Retaliation
If you are going through a legal process against your employer but continue to work for them, they must not retaliate against you. This means that you should be able to continue performing your duties without being punished, especially if your case is related to any form of discrimination. Under Missouri labor laws, filing a discrimination complaint is a protected activity, and your employer should refrain from retaliating against you. Some examples of retaliation include:
- Preventing you from participating in company events
- Changing your schedule without informing you
- Demoting you
- Making intimidating comments
- Firing you
How to Hire An Employment Attorney
Before you choose someone to represent you legally, due diligence is vital. Ask for recommendations from people you trust or from professional organizations. Select an attorney you can trust and who has represented (and won) cases that resemble yours. It’s also crucial that you understand your payment options. Some lawyers will ask for a retainer fee and charge you by the hour (and this includes phone calls, time responding to your emails, and time preparing and filing paperwork). Most employment attorneys will offer to waive their fees for a percentage of your wins.
Make sure to get a copy of every case-related document, and keep records of all your interactions. Every agreement you make with your lawyer (such as your payment plan) must be written. Hiring an attorney can expedite your process and increase your chances of winning. However, they will need your commitment, awareness of your responsibilities, and cooperation.