The Economics of Suing Your Employer

If you have been wrongfully terminated, you may be concerned about the cost of suing your employer. It is important to evaluate the costs and fees before making a significant decision like whether to pursue litigation. Fortunately, there are low-cost and low-risk ways to hold your employer accountable.

How Much Does it Cost to Sue Your Employer?

The cost of suing your employer varies depending on where you live, what attorneys you hire, your goals in bringing the case, and how eager the defendant is to settle.

Most employment attorneys represent plaintiffs on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay for the attorney’s time unless you win the case. The percent charged will vary based on the attorney’s skill, the type of case, and the market in your city or state but usually ranges between 33% and 50% and may vary depending on when during the litigation process the case resolves. Some attorneys will charge a fee for an initial consultation. Others do not.

Some contingency fee attorneys require a deposit for the costs of litigation, like filing fees, court reporter fees, expert fees, etc. Others will cover these costs upfront and will be reimbursed from the recovery. Usually, you are not responsible for paying costs if you lose your case, but that is something you should confirm before you sign your engagement agreement.

If you can find a lawyer to represent you on a contingency basis, the main investment you make in your employment discrimination case is time. Being a plaintiff in active litigation may require you to help the attorneys prepare your case, to sit for a deposition, to attend a medical exam (depending on the type of damages sought and the type of case), and to attend each day of your trial or hearing if that case gets that far. If you do not want to invest time in your case, you should be clear about that with your lawyer so they can strategize about whether early resolution is feasible.

How Long Does it Take to Resolve an Employment Case?

It depends. Some cases settle within weeks or even days of you hiring a lawyer. Others are fiercely litigated for multiple years before trial. The average employment case in California is pending in the courts for between 1 and 2 years. However, this depends on the size of your case and the strength of liability. In general, if your case is worth less, it may resolve more quickly because it does not make economic sense for the other side to pay their lawyer the money they could use towards a settlement.

The length of litigation depends on a number of other factors outside your control. Maybe the other side’s attorney is difficult and slows down the process. Maybe your case is pending in a jurisdiction with more crowded courts and more judicial backlog. Maybe the defendant is unreasonable and the defense lawyer cannot convince them to pay a settlement. All of these things can impact how long it takes to resolve your case.

When your case does not resolve quickly, it may be frustrating. Having an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process can help relieve this stress.

What Can I Expect as a Settlement in My Employment Case?

It depends. Although there is some data suggesting that the average employment case resolves for around $45,000, about 10% of cases resolve for more than $1 million. There is wide variation in the value of employment claims based on a number of factors including the strength of liability, the extent of your damages, the size of the defendant, the severity of the misconduct, and the defendant’s appetite for litigation. You can read more about how to value your employment case here.

If you are wondering whether it is “worth it” to sue your employer, the answer is: it depends. If your claims are strong and you are invested in the litigation process, it can be very “worth it” to feel you are standing up for accountability, getting compensation for your injuries, and incentivizing the company to change its ways. If you are looking for a windfall or an easy and quick process, you may be disappointed. A skilled employment attorney can walk you through the considerations and tradeoffs if you are on the fence about litigation. 

Talk to an Experienced Wrongful Termination Attorney

At King & Siegel LLP, we have helped hundreds of workers hold employers accountable. If you have been discriminated against, retaliated against, denied your rightful wages, or wrongfully terminated, our attorneys are here to help.

Need legal help? We provide free, confidential consultations to workers in California and New York. You should contact us as soon as possible to make sure your claim is still within the time limits set by law. If you are a victim of wrongful termination or other violations of the employment laws, contact us today through our website or give us a call at (213) 214-3757 to schedule a free consultation.

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