Do’s and don’ts

DO’S AND DON’TS FOR EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE SUFFERED DISCRIMINATION OR UNFAIR TREATMENT IN THEIR EMPLOYMENT OR WHO ARE INVOLVED IN AN EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE

DO’S FOR THOSE WHO ARE STILL EMPLOYED

DO KEEP GOOD NOTES

Written documentation is essential to win any case. Also, if fail to keep documents, a judge could penalize you under a doctrine called spoliation.

DO KEEP ANY EMAIL OR OTHER DOCUMENTS SENT TO YOU BY SUPERVISION OR CO- WORKERS

For the same reasoned as outlined above, your employer may have a duty to retain documents and emails about you. However, they often don’t. If you do, it puts you a leg up and can make your employer look like it is hiding things.

DO CONTACT ANY UNION REPRESENTATIVE YOU MIGHT HAVE

If your employer is unionized, often the union contract may be the fastest and most efficient way to resolve your dispute. Sometimes the courts have held it may be the sole and exclusive way to obtain a resolution. Even if he or she has been unresponsive in the past, you should contact your union representative and you should know what’s in your union contract if a dispute arises at work.

DO CONTACT YOUR EEO COUNSELOR TO REPORT ANY DISCRIMINATORY ACT

If you are a federal employee, know your rights under the equal employment opportunity laws. Check to make sure your workplace contains a poster informing you of your rights. And file a charge with the EEO counseling office if you believe you have been discriminated against.

DO WATCH YOUR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Even if your rights have been violated if you do not complain in time, you cannot enforce them. Be aware that federal employees must contact an EEO counselor within 45 days after any discriminatory act. Private sector employees have 300 days after a discriminatory act to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

DO’S FOR TERMINATED EMPLOYEES

DO YOUR BEST TO SECURE YOUR PERSONAL ITEMS

You have a right to these items. Many have sentimental value and some, like any personal documents, may be important to your case.

DO RETURN ANY EMPLOYER ITEMS AS PROMPTLY AS POSSIBLE

You will have enough problems disputing your termination with your employer. Do not create more or subject yourself to a claim from your employer by not returning what items the employer owns and has given you to use as part of your job (cell phones, laptops, etc.). You should be aware that all data on these is probably the property of your employer and you should not be deleting anything.

DO START MAKING A SEARCH FOR OTHER EMPLOYMENT IMMEDIATELY

You will need to do this anyway for your economic well-being. However, it is important to make sure you receive the full amount of lost pay owed. For every week you do not search for work you could lose the right to collect your pay for that week if you win your case.

DO KEEP DETAILED RECORDS OF YOUR JOB SEARCH

This includes internet searches. Printout copies of on-line searches. If you do not do so, you could be accused of destroying documents and you may lose your right to lost pay. The general rule is that you should be making at least 4 to 5 contacts per week.

DO APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

This provides essential income to tide you over during your job search. Don’t be put off from applying even if you were fired for what the employer says was misconduct or cause. The employer must prove that to the unemployment office in order to deny you benefits. Also, some states allow you to collect even if some misconduct is found to have occurred.

DO TRY TO MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH ANY FRIENDLY CO-EMPLOYEES WHO COULD BE WITNESSES

A good witness is often more important than a good lawyer. Your employer will usually have witnesses and you will need to have your own to even the playing field.

DO KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP

No one likes someone who is down in the dumps. You will make a better impression in your job search and, if it gets that far, in court if you do not appear bitter or excessively angry.

DO SEEK COUNSELING FROM A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL IF YOU FEEL YOU CANNOT

On the other hand, losing your job and your financial security can be devastating. If you are feeling depressed or are not yourself you need to see a medical professional right away. He or she will make your feel better to face what you need to do when you are out of work. There is no shame in it and it could be helpful in proving you were damaged because of the firing.

DON’TS

DON’T BE INSUBORDINATE

If you are in trouble at work do not make it worse by not following instructions or the employer’s rules. In fact, follow them more closely than ever even if they seem unfair. Do not give your employer real cause to fire you.

DON’T DISOBEY A DIRECT ORDER OF YOUR SUPERVISOR

This is the biggest no-no in employment law. The rule is: Follow orders now; grieve later. See also comments above.

DON’T PLACE CONFIDENTIAL MATERIAL ON AN OFFICE PC OR LAPTOP

Remember to view your employer’s computer equipment as its property. Your employer will have access to it almost anytime it wants to. Your privacy on that equipment is extremely limited and may be non-existent. Use your own pc or laptop if you want to keep electronic records private.

DON’T POST COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR JOB ON FACEBOOK, MY SPACE, U-TUBE, ETC.

Employers and potential employers increasingly are checking these sites to gain information about people. Even if your site is blocked, once you are in litigation you will be expected to disclose, in what is called the discovery phase of the case, anything you said about your employer or job on these sites.

DON’T ENGAGE IN SECRET TAPING

This may be illegal in some states, especially if it is over the telephone. More important, even if not illegal, it may put you in a bad light or make you look insubordinate, distrustful or even paranoid. Further, the quality of many of these recordings is also poor and you may sound or say something as damaging as anything you obtain from your boss.

DON’T EXPECT THE LAW TO PREVENT ILLEGAL ACTIVITY

Employment law is generally designed to clean up any damage you have suffered because of your employer’s actions. Only in a rare case will it let you go to court to try to stop an employer from acting. The law says if you have been wronged you can collect money for your damages after the case is over.

DON’T EXPECT AN EARLY RESOLUTION OF YOUR CASE

Employment cases generally are hard fought and take a long time to resolve. Do not expect a quick settlement or even any settlement. Although many cases are settled, prepare as if your case will end up in front of a jury. It will only increase the value of your case if it does.

DON’T GET TOO DOWN ON YOURSELF

Because employment cases last a long time, you should be flexible and roll with the punches. Your case will usually take many twists and turns before it is resolved. It is important to stay positive, but realistic, throughout.