Many employees file discrimination complaints with Wisconsin’s Equal Rights Division (ERD) without retaining an attorney. If you are an ERD complainant without an attorney, and you just received a “probable cause” determination, you may be wondering “now what?” Or at least you should be. In the time following a probable cause determination, things will get more formal and legalistic. You should get the most information you can about what’s to come.
Below, I’ll discuss what a “probable cause” (PC) determination means, what a “no probable cause” (NPC) determination means, and what each determination may mean for you. Bad news first.
Employees, employers, retirees and everyone else should check out this outstanding post by Professional Life Coach Tim Brownson: “5 Questions That Will Change Your Life.” Mr. Brownson arms readers with 5 questions that you should ask when facing any important life decision- I should note, these questions directly apply to any employment dispute or litigation that you are considering.
The magic questions are these:
If you have an important document relating to a dispute with your employer- for example, a termination letter or a pay stub showing underpaid wages- please save that document. (You can read more here about keeping good documentation).
Just as important, please do not write on the document, or otherwise alter it.
Keep in mind that important employment documents may later be used in legal proceedings. For example, if you want to use your termination letter as an exhibit at an unemployment hearing, you don’t want to show the judge a letter that has your added, handwritten notes across it, saying things “This is a f#$% LIE!!!!” (I only exaggerrate slightly- I’ve had clients who marked up documents with notes reflecting their frustrations in similar terms).
Bottom line: hold on to important documents, and don’t mess with them.