Sue for Employment Discrimination? Not So Fast!

Discrimination lawsuits against employers are up -- a sign of the current hard times. But in any times, reports legal journalist Jonathan Glater, they're tough to win.

America is the land of lawsuits -- or, as some call it, the legal lottery. Both individuals like Lilly Ledbetter and groups such as employees at Wal-Mart routinely sue their employers for alleged discrimination. Most attorneys provide complimentary consultations to assess if your case is worth pursuing as an official lawsuit.

Those worth their salt will warn you that a lawsuit could involve:

Difficulty proving contention. Litigation is based on evidence. Claims of discrimination require concrete documentation. Does it exist in your situation?

Long process. By its nature, litigation moves slowly. Employers usually have the financial resources to prolong it beyond what lawyers working for you on contingency can afford to absorb or what won't bankrupt you.

Framed as adversarial. Most legal proceedings, be they employment lawsuits or divorces, pit parties against one another. That's why being involved in them is emotionally exhausting and can damage reputations. Do you have the strength to endure this?

Unsympathetic jurors. In the current economic climate, some jurors tend to feel anyone who is employed is lucky to have a job, so don't whine about the small stuff.

Settlements not so easy. Employers have become less thrown by employment lawsuits and more experienced in the negative impacts settling could have. Settling could invite similar lawsuits.

Should you still want to proceed, remember that lawyers practice an art, not a science. Talk to a few of them about the merits of your case, not just one. Then make your decision. A class-action lawsuit, instead of an individual one, might be the soundest move legally.

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