A Top Employment Law Firm Serving Escondido, California
Stephen Danz and Associates’ goal is to provide responsive, aggressive and knowledgeable representation to employees. Our firm is one of California’s largest focusing on representing workers. We have obtained settlements and verdicts in the millions of dollars for our clients as well as represented managers and executives in severance negotiations. Clients know that when they hire us they know an attorney will personally handle their cases and ensure they are treated with the utmost professionalism and respect. The firm prides itself on standing up for plaintiffs in cities within Northern California and Southern California since the State’s courts are as specialized and diverse as its landscape. In Escondido, California, our attorneys are highly specialized and handle complex employment lawsuits where private individuals trust us to bring forth their cases in local, state and federal courts.
When Does an Employment Action Begin?
An employment case begins when the employee client informs one of our attorneys of an adverse employment action or situation, or the employer client reports an employee’s accusation or complaint. Employment litigation can be highly charged. Both sides in an action may be emotional about the case. Careers, reputations, and economic futures may be at stake for both employees and employers. An employee who has been terminated or whose rights have been violated may feel embarrassed, humiliated, and even ashamed. He or she may fear economic adversity, either in the form of lower pay or extended unemployment. There is a perception that it takes a job to find a job in the current market; some job postings state, “must be employed to apply.”
An employer accused of wrongful termination or violation of antidiscrimination statutes may fear negative publicity that might affect its reputation. If sued by a current or former employee, an employer might worry that the lawsuit will polarize the remaining employees, damaging morale and increasing tensions in the workplace. Both sides may be concerned with the costs of litigation and the time it will take, to the detriment of their lives or business. Given the serious ramifications of employment litigation and the range of possible legal options, it is important to begin a dialogue with the client early on about options and goals and how to proceed.
How to Determine the Remedies of Employment Law Cases?
Any discussion of client goals has to be conducted in light of the available legal options. Our employment attorneys review the statutory and common law remedies available in the employment arena to determine the legal possibilities based on the facts of the case at hand as ascertained during investigation and discovery.
After investigation and analysis, our attorneys then help the client set reasonable goals and expectations, grounded in the facts and law. Although an attorney should be ambitious and aim high, it is counterproductive to generate unwarranted expectations as to outcome. The biggest barrier to settlement is often unreasonable expectations created at the commencement of the case. Unfounded expectations lead parties to reject reasonable settlements and charge into ill-advised litigation.
A recent case exemplifies how we represent plaintiffs in California employment law cases. One plaintiff genuinely and with justification felt mistreated by an employer. There is, however, a substantial legal question (regarding, for example, statute of limitations, causation, “at will” employment) with arguably no triable issues of material fact. The client had untempered expectations of success and caused her to ignore the mediator’s concerns about what the client may see as dry and “technical” legal issues. We were able to carefully show the two sides of the case and allow the client to accept an appropriate substantial settlement offer. In such a case, the attorney’s success relied on the ability to fully show the client how the evidence served (and failed to serve) the client.
How to Evaluate the Employee’s Claims?
Our attorneys make an early assessment of
- The strength of the asserted claims (to determine potential liability); and
- The potential exposure if liability is found.
Then, our attorneys collaborate with the client to flesh out the components of the liability exposure calculation that may include the following:
- Back pay;
- Emotional distress damages;
- Available penalties; and
- Estimated attorney fees.
At the early stages of litigation, it may be difficult to calculate exposure estimates, particularly before the attorney has conducted any discovery. However, we will be able to review the complaint along with information gathered through interviews to determine an approximation of the employer’s potential exposure. In addition, because the law in California generally provides a prevailing plaintiff the ability to recover attorney fees, an estimate of attorney fees should always factor into the evaluation of the client’s potential exposure.
If the client has filed a DFEH or EEOC charge, the employer must undertake a thorough factual investigation and then prepare a concise response that outlines all the relevant facts (e.g., the employee’s employment history, the relevant employer policies and procedures, and a timeline of events leading to the adverse employment action). These will also be discoverable upon commencement of Discovery.
Opinions differ as to how much legal argument to include in response to an administrative charge. Some attorneys will only briefly outline the legal principles supporting their position, without much legal citation. However, the better practice is to include enough legal analysis to allow the client to present a strong argument. If an employee was terminated after returning from protective leave, one must evaluate the legitimacy of the leave and reasonable accommodation.