If you are an employee thinking about pursuing a legal claim (e.g. a discrimination charge against your employer), it is important you feel passion and emotion for that claim and your belief in it. However, you should also take time to look at the claim from a different perspective. Treat that legal claim as if it were stock or a money market account into which you were making an investment.
Monthly Archives: May 2008
Employees who feel wronged by an employer often want to know whether they may have a legal claim worth pursuing, i.e. “Do I have a case?” This post will identify common attributes of good employee rights cases.
Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you should contact an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown or his law firm DVG Law Partner for your matter, please contact them here:
Generally speaking, an employee rights case is more promising, and more worthwhile to pursue, when several or all of the following factors are present:
If you have been underpaid wages, you may want to consider the following.
- Keep copies of your paystubs and pay-related documents.
Are you a jerk boss? Before you answer, please do not rely on your self-awareness (or lack thereof) alone– unbridled confidence gets the real jerks in trouble.
Take this test to find out if you’re a “jerk” (my term), or, as the test’s author puts it, an “A@$ole”.
The test was developed by Robert Sutton, PhD, author of “The No A@$ole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace, and Surviving One That Isn’t.”
Montana is the only State that requires employers to have a good reason (or “good cause”) to fire an employee.
Under Montana law, “A discharge is wrongful … if … the discharge was not for good cause.”
Wisconsin, like most States, is not a “good cause” State and is instead an “employment-at-will” State. This means in WI an employer may fire an employee “for good cause, for no cause, or even for cause morally wrong, without (the employer) being thereby guilty of legal wrong.” Brockmeyer v. Dun & Bradstreet, 113 Wis.2d 561, 567 (WI SC 1983).
So, which State is better? Is Montana an employee’s promised land, or another attempt at utopia that’s bound to fail? Should Wisconsin be a “good cause” State? I don’t have an answer, other than to say WI law should be better to employees than it is.
A big-firm attorney was fired within days of having a miscarriage, and wrote a scathing email to her coworkers. You can read it here.
Based on the email and the facts as I know them, I believe the employee was right that she was treated unfairly. So, why is this post titled “How NOT to Communicate?” Because, it is not enough to be right. People who are in-the-right must still (1) pay attention to signs that your work environment is NOT right and NOT going to change (e.g. EARLY in your job tenure pay attention if your boss wants you to work huge numbers of hours, and shows little regard for your family); (2) proactively change your environment (e.g. seek a transfer to a more humane boss, or seek jobs/interviews with more humane employers who will respect your need to take time for family, pregnancy, etc.); and (3) communicate politely, IN THOSE INSTANCES communication could make positive changes happen.
It is a sobering fact that sometimes there is nothing you can change within your present environment. Sometimes you can be 100% right, and communicate with complete honesty and civility, and stand absolutely no chance of changing the status quo. Here, the employee was fired, the damage done. What good does a scathing email do? It surely made her feel better the moment she sent it off. But the effects linger, and readers debate whether or not her career may be finished.
This employee would have been better off remaining silent, allowing herself a clear route to a new job where she can cultivate her correct values, and leave the old environment behind to canabalize itself. But instead she took that parting shot, and as a result she can’t leave the old world behind.
Employee Tip: Things to Consider Before Filing a Discrimination Complaint at the Wisconsin ERD or EEOC
If you are an employee thinking of filing a discrimination complaint with the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division (ERD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there are several things you may want to consider before submitting the complaint.
Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you should contact an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown for your matter, you can contact Mr. Brown and his law firm DVG Law Partner here:
First, you can review ERD’s website here for information about Wisconsin’s discrimination law, the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA), and about filing a complaint at ERD. You can also review EEOC’s information about filing a complaint (also called a “charge”) here. Continue reading