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legal news & tips for employees published by Law Office of Eugene Lee


Top 5 Tips: So You Want to Sue Your Boss?

So you want to sue your employer for racial discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower retaliation, failure to pay you your last paycheck, what have you. Now what? Here are five tips all clients should keep in mind before they pick up the phone to call a lawyer.

summons1.jpgTip 1: Write it, don’t say it. People think it’s enough to complain, request or report things orally to their employer. They complain about discrimination to HR over the phone. Or they tell their supervisor about a health and safety code violation. Well, what are you going to do when HR or the supervisor denies you ever talked with them? Don’t believe it? Happens all the time. Avoid the “he said, she said” by communicating with your employer by emails or send letters (certified mail, return receipt requested). By doing this, you create a record.

Tip 2: Keep a journal. Don’t rely on memory, write everything down. The names of witnesses, dates, times, places, what was said, documents involved – the more detailed the better. And be professional about it. Don’t write that your boss is a %*&@! in the journal, because the journal could become evidence. Another thing, don’t leave the journal on your desk or in your desk drawer at work where your boss can find it. You might end up fired and your lawsuit dead.

Tip 3: Get witnesses. Emails, memos and letters are one form of key evidence in a lawsuit. Witnesses are the other. When your boss calls you a racial slur, pats you on the rear, or threatens to fire you because you reported him for illegal activity, talk to whoever witnessed it. Confirm whether they saw it. Try to get them on your side. Do this carefully and your case will have just gotten a lot stronger.

Tip 4: Don’t play lawyer. So you went to the internet and learned that “retaliation”, “hostile work environment” and “whistleblowing” are magic words. That doesn’t mean you should go waving those terms around in your emails and conversations at the workplace like your sword and shield. Don’t play lawyer. Chances are, your employer’s lawyer will be better at it than you are and if, as is likely, you get it all wrong, you’re the one who could come off looking like the bully, not the employer. Get a lawyer instead.

Tip 5: Don’t get mad, get even (or turn the other cheek). You’re being treated outrageously by your co-workers, your supervisors or the owners of your company, or maybe all of them. You’re depressed, scared and . . . spitting mad! To quote Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, you want to take a flamethrower to the place! That’s fine if you want to end up in jail and without a lawsuit. Otherwise, take a deep breath, follow tips 1 to 4, and call an attorney. That momentary lapse where you curse your boss out like a sailor in front of your entire office could mean you no longer have a case.

More tips to come, but if you follow these five, you will be way ahead of the game. And your lawyer will thank you for it.



  • http://www.robertreeveslaw.com Los Angeles Lawyer

    Excellent advice, unfortunately, a man’s word doesn’t often times hold up any longer, true written or printed proof along with witnesses carries much more weight.

  • Atalice2001

    how can i find i good labor law attorney? Fresno area

  • Mother Teresa

    When you sue a small business you put dozens of people out of work to satisfy the frivilous claims of those who never missed a paycheck to cover payroll, took a risk, or helped anyone but themselves. Shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Installer_mss

      So you believe that small business owners should be able to get away with skating the law or breaking it because them being sued could jeopardise others’ jobs? It’s the owner’s responsibility to follow laws and think of the people they employ rather than their personal agendas. While going beyond what is necessary to punish an employer is exactly that, others shouldn’t be off the hook.

    • Installer_mss

      So you believe that small business owners should be able to get away with skating the law or breaking it because them being sued could jeopardise others’ jobs? It’s the owner’s responsibility to follow laws and think of the people they employ rather than their personal agendas. While going beyond what is necessary to punish an employer is exactly that, others shouldn’t be off the hook.

    • Smileicious

      No mother Theresa!! If the employer is breaking the law like mine is…in many ways… then SHUT THE PLACE DOWN, penalize the owner/boss and do whats right!!!  Its people like you that just let it keep happening and don’t do any thing about it. So Shame on YOU Mother Theresa for not helping the little people and sticking up for the corrupted and illegal doers!!!!

  • dick

    I think that their is always going bad employers out their some were. So we just need to stick together and try to make something positive happen.

  • Meatdm

    I worked for this company for 7 days and realized the commission basis was far too extreme (collection agency) I contacted the other company that wanted to hire me and they agreed to my salary requirements. I quit the other job, offering a 2 week notice which they declined, and it has been 2 weeks now, no paycheck. I have been calling (recording sez calls not being accepted) and finally I drove all the way over there (30 miles) and doors locked. HELP! I am our almost $800.00!

  • Syohanna

    everyone is getting double OT but me because I am contractor. Doing exactly the same work but getting 13.40 per hour. is that fair?

  • Bonnie Currie

    the attorney i work for yelled at me, degraded me and called me names in front of everyone at the office. she has been bullying me since she started working there. HR called me today on a sunday at 6pm and told me to come into the hr office at 1:30 pm. i asked if they were firing me she said no that she just wanted to speak with me and find out what happened. I’m really stressed out. I’m going into emergency now because I had a panic/anxiety attack 10 minutes ago and I can’t take it anymore. can they fire me if I get on disability? If my doctor takes me out for a few weeks due to stress?

  • Jerri L Newsome

    I went for a drug test n when I asked for my water bcause I couldent pp, the girl yelled at me no u cant have any more water, I was like what ok I sat donw than I proceeded to tell her every other clinic I have ever been to has let us have more water , well they said protacall is 40 oz, so I waited to go, n I said I should try now , she said if u cant go we have to keep u here so I waited , well I don’t think she should of yelled at me, well the ey pulled me in the office n asked me what the problem was I was like what, n I told my boss I was going to report her to her coporate office I was seriouley going to do that anyway bcause of the way she yelleld at me, n my boss said I would b in more troublalle with my co if I reported her for verberballey assaulting me