Dangers of Bad Message-Board Advice to “Go File a Legal Complaint With ______”

Internet message boards about legal issues can be helpful for (1) general educational information; (2) looking for attorneys who seem to know what they’re talking about, so you can contact one; and (3) familiarizing yourself with issues that you could raise with an attorney when discussing potential legal rights. But message boards are usually terrible places to get ADVICE to ACT upon.

One common example of terrible message-board “advice”: the adviser who reads your question and replies you should ”Go file a legal complaint with [name of govt. agency, etc.].”  Often, such advice comes from non-attorneys.  Sometimes, even attorneys will make this horrific and flip message-board statement to “Go file a complaint…”: when an attorney does this, it’s almost always someone who doesn’t practice in the area of law they are talking about.

Filing a legal complaint is not something to be taken lightly, or to be cavalierly considered after a few minutes of electronic message-boarding.  A legal complaint typically involves a long process, taking months or (often) years, with complex series of potential developments, pros and cons, costs, risks, etc.

Did the message-board person telling you to file a complaint discuss with you any SPECIFIC BENEFITS or RISKS to you for YOUR particular situation?  Probably not.  If you don’t know specifically what you could gain versus what you could risk, how can you make an informed decision to file a legal complaint?

Is the person telling you to file a complaint going to PAY for the complaint process or represent you on CONTINGENCY (where they will assume financial risk)? Will they ACCOMPANY you throughout that process? HELP you throughout that process?  If the answer is no to any of these questions, you should take their recommendation with more than a grain of salt. It takes them ten seconds to type a statement that you should file a complaint. It may take you years to complete the process they typed about.

If you are considering taking legal action, then beforehand you should consult in detail with an attorney who is experienced in that subject matter.  Typically, a lengthy phone or in-person consultation (i.e. far more information than message-posting can convey) is needed to simply evaluate whether a potential legal claim exists.  If potentially-viable legal rights exist, then more discussion is needed about the actions or legal processes that could be undertaken.  Also, discussion is needed about the potential pros and cons, what parts of the process (if any) could be managed without an attorney, or if an attorney is involved, whether an affordable or contingency arrangement is possible.

Long story short, if you follow advice from a message board, you may be assuming big risks.  Legal actions can be extremely effective for some people. But I can’t say I ever heard of a legal success story that began with a message-board adviser recommending a complaint and leaving the complainant alone in the wild.

Severance Negotiations? Consider the Value of an Attorney’s Letterhead

Have you been presented with a severance offer? If so, you may be planning to try to negotiate a better severance. And you may be wondering if you should mention, as leverage, potential legal rights.  After all, perhaps you found some strong potential legal claims via Google searches, via reviewing government websites, etc.

The question: So why not mention those legal rights to the employer, and use them to negotiate?

One answer: Because most legal rights that “look” correct to a given employee are in fact incorrect. (Most employees, especially smart ones, badly misdiagnose their own potential legal rights).

Another answer: Unless you have an attorney, the employer is unlikely to take your legal posturing seriously.

You are probably not experienced with lawsuits or litigation. Employers are often experienced litigants. For those that are not, they usually communicate with someone who is, i.e. a corporate employment attorney, before they present a severance offer.  So, chances are, your employer is legally- prepared. Informed.

And when an employer in that position hears an employee talking about legal rights (especially misdiagnosed legal rights), they figure the employee is blowing smoke. If the employee is serious about doing something about their rights, then he or she would have hired an attorney.

If you plan to negotiate a severance agreement, consider the value of an attorney’s letterhead.  That letterhead alone signifies you are approaching the negotiation professionally, and seriously.  When an employer sees an attorney’s letterhead and name, they take matters more seriously. Most will quickly do internet research of the attorney and his or her website.  In my case, a employer reviewing my website would see example cases I have handled in court and other legal forums, and would see I have enforced the legal rights I am talking about during severance negotiations. It’s not just theory. It’s not blowing smoke.

We lawyers obviously have more going for us than our letterhead and websites. But those things reflect some real qualities that an employee (negotiating alone) simply does not have. Legal experience. Knowledge. Credibility.

So if you plan to negotiate your severance based on perceived legal leverage, consider getting an attorney.

Severance Boost Button

Work for Wal-Mart and Have to Buy Clothes Per Their New Policy?

My law firm represents workers in employment and wage lawsuits across the U.S. and is investigating Wal-mart’s new dress code policy.  Are you a Wal-mart worker — or do you know one– who has bought clothes due to Wal-mart’s new dress code policy?

If so, and you are interested in speaking with a lawyer, please contact me, attorney Michael Brown, at 920-238-6781 or mbrown@dvglawpartner.com.

According to news reports, Wal-Mart has a new dress code policy that requires workers to wear certain clothes to work.  If workers do not have the clothes– e.g. pants, shirts, etc. of the required kind and color– they must obtain or buy them.  Wal-mart informs workers they can buy the clothes from Wal-mart.

It is possible workers may have legal rights and options.  Different States have different laws that potentially apply to clothes-purchase issues.  Legal rights depend on the circumstances, including the State a given employee works in, whether the employee has purchased clothes (and has a receipt or other proof), and other factors.

A worker interested in legal rights should not rely on his or her own assumptions or advice from people who are not employment attorneys.  If you are interested in speaking with an attorney, please feel free to contact me.

Class Certification Motion by H-1B Workers in Case Against Access Therapies, RN Staff et al

A class certification motion and brief were filed (link to the brief is here), by H-1B workers represented by the attorney-authors, with regard to the case against Access Therapies, Inc., and RN Staff Inc. d/b/a Rehability Care, and associated company representatives.

Please contact attorney Michael Brown at (920)238-6781 if you have any information or questions about the case.

Summary Judgment Motion by H-1B Workers in Case Against Access Therapies, RN Staff et al

A summary judgment motion and brief were filed (link to the brief is here), by H-1B workers represented by the attorney-authors, with regard to the  case against Access Therapies, Inc., and RN Staff Inc. d/b/a Rehability Care, and associated company representatives.

Please contact attorney Michael Brown at (920)238-6781 if you have any information or questions about the case.

Reply Brief for Witness Tampering Motion in H-1B Workers’ Case Against Access Therapies, RN Staff et al

A reply brief was filed (link to the reply brief is here), by H-1B workers represented by the attorney-authors, with regard to the Motion for Witness Tampering and Discovery Misconduct Sanctions in the workers’ case against Access Therapies, Inc., and RN Staff Inc. d/b/a Rehability Care, and associated company representatives.

Please contact attorney Michael Brown at (920)238-6781 if you have any information or questions about the case.

It May Be Easy to File a Complaint, But Not a GOOD Complaint

Often, workers file their own employment law complaints such as for wage or discrimination issues because the complaints seem easy to prepare.  For example, you may have seen a complaint form on a government website, and it may look simple.  So why not complete the form and submit it?  It’s easy, right?

Know this.  Filing a complaint may be easy, but filing a GOOD legal complaint is not easy.  In fact, it’s very difficult for someone who is not an attorney to prepare a good legal complaint that presents your strongest case.  A good legal complaint involves:

- Knowledge and evaluation of ALL potential legal claims to ensure you are considering all your possible rights and options;

- Knowledge of the potential VALUE of a legal claim if you win, and whether that value is worth pursuing when compared to potential investments of time, work and/or money on your part;

- Deciding whether it’s a good idea to pursue ANY legal complaint, or if other courses of action are better (e.g. having an attorney write a settlement offer letter to the employer first, etc.);

- Choosing the BEST claims to pursue;

- When writing a complaint, being accurate, and including all necessary information supporting the best legal claims;

- Not including irrelevant information in the complaint that distracts, and/or upsets, the legal decision-makers who review the complaint; and

- Knowledge of the PROCESS involved after a complaint is filed, and planning for that process and associated responsibilities.

I don’t write all this to discourage you from pursuing a legal complaint.  Rather, I want to encourage you to think about the issues above.  If you are able to talk to an attorney in advance (and obviously it doesn’t have to be me), that can help you sort through important issues before you make mistakes.  Those issues are in fact complicated, however simple an initial complaint form may seem to appear.

Filing of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Witness Tampering and Discovery Misconduct Sanctions in H-1B Workers’ Case Against Access Therapies, RN Staff et al

Recently, H-1B workers represented by the attorney-authors filed a Motion for Witness Tampering and Discovery Misconduct Sanctions in the workers’ case against Access Therapies, Inc., and RN Staff Inc. d/b/a Rehability Care, and associated company representatives.

Please contact attorney Michael Brown at (920)238-6781(920)238-6781 if you have any information or questions about the case.

Scroll below if you’d like to review the brief accompanying the motion:

171 Brief Ps' Motion for Witness Tampering and Discovery Misconduct Sanctions

 

 

Third Amended Complaint Filed in Our H-1B Underpaid-Worker Class Action Against Access Therapies, RN Staff Inc. d/b/a Rehability Care

Recently, a third amended complaint was filed in a class action case in which the attorney-authors represent H-1B workers.  The class action complaint is asserted against against Access Therapies, Inc., RN Staff Inc. d/b/a Rehability Care, and associated representatives of the companies.  The H-1B workers allege claims involving forced labor, unpaid wages, and breach of contract.  The case is pending in the Southern District of Indiana federal court.

The attorney-authors of this blog, Michael Brown and Vonda Vandaveer, are among the attorneys representing the H-1B worker who filed the lawsuit, along with attorney Daniel Kotchen and Kotchen & Low LLP.

Please contact attorney Michael Brown at (920)238-6781(920)238-6781 if you have any information or questions about the case.

Scroll below if you’d like to review the Third Amended Complaint, which details the case allegations about H-1B workers being underpaid and mistreated:

3rd Amended Complaint Access Therapies

 

Considering Legal Action? Don’t Let Worries About Travel Stop You

When people are telling the attorney-authors about legal concerns, some say they are worried if they take legal action against an employer, especially one who is in a different location from them, they will have to travel too much to fight for their case.

In reality rarely does a party have to travel to pursue their rights.  I can count on one hand the types of events that might require a party to travel.  Those events (which only could arise after a legal complaint is filed) are:

  • a deposition (which could be required in person, but can be conducted via phone if agreed);
  • mediation (a settlement conference which sometimes is mandatory, and sometimes a mandatory mediation requires in-person attendance); and
  • trial.

More often than not, cases are resolved before any of the events above occur, so the client never needs to travel.  Most of the clients I have represented have not traveled at all by the time their cases resolved.  Most of my clients’ cases have resolved via settlements (contracts agreeing to financial terms, closing of the legal matters, etc.).  Settlement is often a better option than litigating through trial or thereafter.

So even those matters that involve lawsuits that are filed and pursued for months or years will usually only involve one to two instances of travel at most. When a given client of mine is scheduled for a deposition or mediation and does not want to travel, I explore if alternatives are possible, such as a phone appearance.  Also, if a client of mine who is outside of the United States has concerns about being able to enter or re-enter the country to pursue legal rights, there are usually options available to resolve those concerns (e.g. phone appearances, visas for legal matters, etc.).

The bottom line is you should not assume frequent travel, or any travel, will be required if you retain an attorney and explore legal options.  The attorney will discuss with you what events, if any, are likely to occur that could require travel. You should not let assumptions or fears about travel stop you from exploring your possible legal rights or legal action.