Over the course of about 15 years, I have tried to verdict three employment cases and settled at least 300 of them, maybe more. This has involved me writing and responding to thousands of emails and letters and having more telephone conversations then I care to remember, with the lawyers who have been hired to defend employers. The one take away from just about every settlement negotiation is that, unless you have a good discrimination or harassment case and have crossed the t’s by documenting everything that has happened to you which includes sending e-mails to supervisors and human resources, you can forget about your employer offering you any serious money to settle your claims.
Even in cases where I have had co-employee deposition testimony confirming that my client got sexually harassed with corroborating e-mails to further nail it down, the employer has still fought to the death. That is unless they have lost the summary judgment motion typically filed right before the first trial date. But, they have put you through the ringer and forced me to spend hundreds of hours prosecuting your claims and I have still not made a dime.
So what does this all mean: if you want to take on your employer when you have been harassed or discriminated against, from the very first incident document it by sending e-mails to HR and supervisors and complain to everyone who will listen. Why is this important? Under NJ law, if you complain about being harassed or discriminated against and your employer fails to take prompt, effective, remedial action to stop the harassment, a jury could deem it to be negligent under the law, making it easier for you to obtain a verdict for damages. It is also important to leave a paper trail, because it negates the company’s defense that you failed to complain about the harassment and therefore, how bad could it have really been?
I can’t tell you how many times when a client has failed to complain and I put the company on notice with a demand letter for the first time the lawyer hired by the company says that they knew nothing about the harassment, they (my client) never complained and no one witnessed the hostile acts occurring.
At the end of the day, if you have documented workplace harassment with e-mails, texts, meetings and oral complaints, and you have defeated the employer’s attempts to dismiss your lawsuit, you have a very good shot at settling your claims before a jury is picked.