Employment litigation dominates court dockets around the country. And the swing to the left in the political arena is not likely to put a damper on the number of filings. Everyone knows that litigation is expensive. So . . . what can the employer do to reduce its expenses if it finds itself on the receiving end of an administrative charge or a lawsuit?
1. Early Case Assessment
Ask your attorney to provide you with an early comprehensive analysis of the case after he or she has interviewed key witnesses, reviewed key documents and researched legal issues. Doing so will give you important information about whether an early settlement is likely to save you money in the long run and give you a good idea of what you are in for if you don’t settle.
2. Manage your documents
Use your in-house IT staff to image hard drives to save the cost of outsourcing. Do a thorough job of collecting documents from all relevant players so that your attorneys and their paralegals don’t have to charge you to do this work.
3. Decipher your documents
Provide your attorney up front with a descriptive list of key players, identify key documents and provide a written narrative of the events in question. Anything you can do to compile information at the outset will save your attorney time. Saving attorney time saves you money.
4. Consider early resolution
Leave your pride and your principles at the door and consider an early, cheaper resolution. Yes, employers often say, “I’d rather pay my attorneys than the plaintiff,” but that sense of outrage wears off as litigation wears on.
5. Be open to technology
Good attorneys use document management systems and other tools to help manage cases internally. Ask if you can be included in such systems to reduce the attorney’s need to communicate with you. For example, can you receive docketing notices automatically so that your attorney doesn’t have to send them to you?
6. Check your insurance
Some employers carry employment practices liability coverage. It won’t cover all types of claims you might face (for example, a wage claim wouldn’t be covered and intentional conduct is typically excluded), and you may lose your right to select your own attorney, but, if you have it, you should notify your broker or carrier immediately by providing a copy of the charge or complaint. Other coverage (D&O, GCL) might also be in play.
7. Ask how you can save attorney time!
Don’t hesitate to ask your attorney if there are tasks you can perform in-house to reduce attorney time.