I am currently working on a similar case on behalf of an employee who claimed a medical exemption. As a result, I have some familiarity with the issues you face. A lot depends on the nature of the business you are in and the basis for your claim of religious exemption. You should consider investing in a consultation with an experienced discrimination attorney. Good luck.
You are operating under a misconception. There is no single form of agreement under which lawyers are paid for all types of cases. Generally, it is only in personal injury cases that are taken on contingency where the attorney is paid at the end of the case so long as he is successful. In New Jersey, an attorney is ethically prohibited from taking on a family-law case on a contingency. Other cases call for other payment terms. Good luck.
You could have no defense if you are an at-will employee. Such employees can be fired for any reason or no reason at all so long as it is not an unlawful reason. If you are terminated, invest in a consultation with an experienced employment attorney to get a full handle on your options. Make sure you have a copy of the employee handbook since that could provide some protection for you.
New Jersey rules of court place a cap on what an attorney can earn in a contingency-fee case. If it involves a minor, the cap is 25 percent, one-third if the case goes to trial. R. 1:21-7(c)(6). No ethical attorney would agree to take more. Further, as my colleague points out, malpractice cases are expensive to take on. They require the attorney to hire a medical professional to review the case and determine whether the dentist deviated from the standard of care. This, alone, can cost several...
Contact your former manager and HR and stress to them that you are at risk of losing your new job if the letter doesn't go out. Don't threaten, just explain and ask for their cooperation. Bear in mind, they are under no obligation to release you from the non-compete, no matter how vague it is. Even if it is unenforceable, a prospective employer could well see it as a source of potential litigation and pass on you to avoid the hassle. Good luck.
My colleagues are correct that you are now on file in the criminal justice system. Depending on the type of background check your potential employer conducts, this could show up. You need to check with your criminal attorney to make sure just what it was you pleaded guilty to so that ou can answer the question accurately. A false answer to an application question can always be grounds for termination.
The statute of limitations for cases such as this is two years from the date a reasonable person would realize that he had been the victim of malpractice. The fact that the dentist closed his office should not be much of an impdiment to suit since the Board of Dental Examiners keeps current addresses on file. The bigger question is whether he has malpractice insurance.