Often, workers file their own employment law complaints, such as for wage or discrimination issues, because the complaints seem easy to prepare. For example, you may have seen a complaint form on a government website, and it may look simple. So why not complete the form and submit it? It’s easy, right?
Know this. Filing a complaint may be easy, but filing a GOOD legal complaint is not easy. In fact, it’s very difficult for someone who is not an attorney to prepare a good legal complaint that presents your strongest case. A good legal complaint involves:
- Knowledge and evaluation of ALL potential legal claims to ensure you are considering all your possible rights and options;
- Knowledge of the potential VALUE of a legal claim if you win, and whether that value is worth pursuing when compared to potential investments of time, work and/or money on your part;
- Deciding whether it’s a good idea to pursue ANY legal complaint, or if other courses of action are better (e.g. having an attorney write a settlement offer letter to the employer first, etc.);
- Choosing the BEST claims to pursue;
- When writing a complaint, being accurate, and including all necessary information supporting the best legal claims;
- Not including irrelevant information in the complaint that distracts, and/or upsets, the legal decision-makers who review the complaint; and
- Knowledge of the PROCESS involved after a complaint is filed, and planning for that process and associated responsibilities.
I don’t write all this to discourage you from pursuing a legal complaint. Rather, I want to encourage you to think about the issues above. If you are able to talk to an attorney in advance (and obviously it doesn’t have to be me), that can help you sort through important issues before you make mistakes. Those issues are in fact complicated, however simple an initial complaint form may seem to appear.