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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

10 Questions to Ask When Your Employer is Breaking the Law

Employment lawyers see it often when employees jump to the conclusion that their employers have broken the law and should be sued. However, sometimes—actually, a lot of the time—there’s no case. That’s frustrating. The best way to explore whether or not you have an actual lawsuit on your hands is ask these ten questions.

10 Questions to Ask When Your Employer is Breaking the Law

1. Did Your Employer Violate the Law?

Better yet, do you know which law your employer violated? No law makes favoritism illegal unless it’s against a legally protected class as a whole. Therefore, if you think you’ve experienced illegal treatment by your boss or supervisor, you should have a general idea of what law was violated.

2. How is the Discrimination Against You and Your Protected Class?

The best way to recognize discrimination is to recognize a tangible difference in how two groups of people are treated. Is the difference just in verbal interaction or does it touch on schedule and pay? Pay gap based on gender or race? Is it possible you don’t know the entire situation since some of it may be confidential?

3. Do you have a witness?

When you aren’t the only one noticing that discrimination or some other illegal employment activity is occurring, that can be great proof. Has anyone mentioned that you’re being treated unlawfully? Are coworkers taking sides, choosing between you and your employer?

4. Are presently employed with the company you want to sue?

two coworkers talking about another coworker

Think it through. Filing a lawsuit while working for your employer could be really uncomfortable for you if you’re still working there. You’ll never know whether they’re actually looking at you funny or it’s just in your head. Are you willing to quit? Or do you think you’ll be terminated soon anyway?

5. Have You Reported the Problem Within the Company First?

Jumping right to a lawsuit without looking for other solutions first can sometimes mean that you lose the lawsuit. First things first, you’ll need to complain to your boss, human resources, union, or someone in management. Doing your best to resolve the problem internally can benefit a future lawsuit if you must pursue your employee rights through the legal system.

6. Did You Consult with a Lawyer?

A blog post isn’t enough to determine how you should handle your specific situation. Sure, it can offer some good thoughts, but don’t go thinking you know it all because you read 10 blog posts. Nothing can replace the solid and legal advice of an employment lawyer. Make sure you share the good and bad facts with them—not just the parts that paint you in a good light.

7. Are You Ready for Your Life to be Exposed?

When uncovering information for the lawsuit, discovery may also dig up information about your past in a variation of ways. A lawsuit that includes emotional distress as part of the suit means that your medical records will become fair game for your employer. Your personnel files from past jobs will be brought to light, and coworkers and supervisors will be called on to testify.

8. What Do You Want to Gain from Your Lawsuit?

suited man holding notebook paper asking, "Need a lawyer?"

Knowing what you want out of the lawsuit helps create a strategy for the legal action. Are you there for the justice or for the money? Do you want the whole world to know the injustice you and your coworkers have experienced? Having a goal for an outcome for the lawsuit can help during the process.

9. Are You Ready to Commit to the Lawsuit for Years?

Lawsuits take time. Your case might be the clearest situation of employment discrimination, but you may be in the legal system for quite a while if nothing can be decided in a mediation. To receive justice through the legal system requires a big dose of patience.

If you believe your employer has broken the law, contact an employment attorney now to hear your legal options.

Chat with an employment attorney: (412) 626-5626 or

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