If you have experienced workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, a breach of your contract, or another violation of your employment law rights, you might want to meet with an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your employment law rights. But what should you bring to your initial consultation with an employment lawyer? The answer varies depending on the type of case you have. For example, someone with a case would probably want to bring different documents to the meeting than someone who is looking to enhance a severance offer. The following are some of the most important documents a client might want to bring to the first meeting with an employment lawyer.
Chronology or Timeline
In most cases, it is helpful to prepare a chronology or timeline of the relevant events for your employment lawyer. Generally, the chronology should be brief — in most instances between 1 and 3 pages. It should list the most important events relating to your employment issue, and identify the names and job titles of the people involved in those events. When possible, the chronology should provide the dates of the key events, and ideally should be in chronological order.
Employment Contract or Offer letter
If you have a written or an offer letter, you should bring a copy of it to your initial consultation.
If you have a copy of your company’s employee handbook, or copies of relevant employment policies, you should also bring them with you because they are often relevant to employment law cases.
Key Documents Supporting Your Legal Claims
You should also bring the key documents that you believe support your legal claim. For example, in a sexual harassment case you should bring any documents that show that you were harassed, such as harassing emails, memos, or pictures. Likewise, in a discrimination case you should bring documents that help prove you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination.
However, you should NOT bring any documents that contain anyone else’s (including your employer’s) confidential information, trade secrets, proprietary information, financial information, health information, or information that may be subject to the attorney-client privilege. Likewise, you should not bring any documents that were not intended to be provided to you, such as documents sent to you by mistake, that you took without the owner’s permission, or that someone else could reasonably question whether you should have them in your possession. To the extent you have any such documents, please talk to us before you bring them to us.
Documents or Information About Your Economic Losses
If you have experienced an economic loss, such as lost salary, commissions, or bonuses in a wrongful termination case, you should bring documents or information that show your economic loss.
If you have been fired and were offered a severance agreement, then you should bring a copy of it with you to your initial consultation. You should also bring a copy of the company’s severance policy if you have it.
Other Documents You Think May be Helpful
It usually does not hurt to bring additional documents that you think will help your case, as long as you can find the most important documents, like the ones described above, relatively easily. However, that does not mean your lawyer will want or need to review those documents during your initial consultation. Remember, the purpose of the consultation is to get an overview and initial assessment of your case.
An Open Mind
Perhaps the most important thing to bring to an initial consultation with an is an open mind. For example, many clients go to an employment attorney wanting to sue right away. While that might be the right thing to do in some cases, there are often other options to consider before suing, such as trying to negotiate a severance package or exploring a settlement before suing.
Note: It usually is not a problem if you do not have some, or even any, of the documents listed above. While these documents can be helpful, you do not necessarily need any particular document to pursue an employment law case.
If you work in New York or New Jersey, then contact Rabner Baumgart Ben-Asher & Nirenberg for more information about your employment law rights, or to schedule an initial consultation with an experience employment lawyer.