Tips for Your Initial Meeting with an Attorney (Employment / Wrongful Termination Case)
- Prepare a brief but sufficiently specific chronology of relevant events. This chronology may consist of three columns: 1. date of event; 2. specific nature of the event; 3. names and titles of people involved.
- Prepare a list of witnesses that might support your side of the case with names, phone numbers and what they know exactly. If you can contact them in advance to find out if they would be willing to talk to your attorney, that would be very useful.
- Gather and make copies, if possible, of all the relevant documents that support your employment claims or your version of events of why you were fired. For instance, if this is unpaid overtime or misclassification case, prepare a summary of overtime hours you worked and haven't been paid for, and bring as many pay stubs as you can to the meeting, as well as your job description v a list of duties you actually performed while working for the employer.
- If this is a disability discrimination case, bring a copy of your termination letter, performance reviews, at least one recent paystub, medical documentation reflecting your medical condition, limitations and notice of need for leave or any other accommodation requested from your employer, and/or FMLA request and approval paperwork, as well as any relevant e-mails between you and your employer reflecting discussions of your medical condition, medical leave and need for accommodations, as well as any e-mails or other writings suggesting some kind of animosity toward you because of your disability or medical condition, or because you asked for accommodations or disability leave. Make sure to also bring your basic workers comp paperwork, if you filed a workers comp claim within the last 1-2 years of being terminated.
- If this is a retaliation case, make sure you also bring any documents that show that you engaged in a protected activity, and that the relationship between you and the employer has deteriorated shortly after, such as performance reviews before v after your engaging in that protected activity.
- During your meeting with an attorney, avoid using such generic terms as "harassment", "abusive", "unfair", and "hostile". Instead, describe specific words and actions that took place that suggest discrimination/retaliation. For instance, telling your attorney that your boss called you a "fucking nigger" in front of your co-workers is a much more compelling evidence that simply saying that your boss racially harassed you. Likewise, telling the lawyer that your manager took your hand and put it on his crutch forcefully, while saying "you want it; don't you?" is much more meaningful for the purposes of proving a sexual harassment case than simply saying that your manager was acting inappropriately.
- Share with your attorney openly and honestly any potential issues with proving your case. Every employment case has facts that help your case and also the facts that make your cases harder to prove. Pretend that you are your employer's attorney for a moment, think of the arguments they are going to make to defend the case and share that with your attorney. The more information your attorney has about what to expect, the more effective his representation will be.
- Prepare a list of questions you might have to your attorney about your case and what to expect during the process of pursuing your case.