How to Know if You Have a Wrongful Termination Case

Posted almost 5 years ago. Applies to California, 3 helpful votes

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Bifocal #1: The Technical Elements

Every case can be visualized as a chain having links. You need all the links to chain down the proof. Five out of six elements may be positively obvious to a jury or judge, but oh, that missing link. If it's missing, the case is not chained down. It just gets up, and walks away, usually on a "motion for summary judgment". A wrongful termination case is based on elements that satisfy a theory of recovery. One of these is implied contract, another is discrimination, and a third is "whistleblower retaliation". Now, in the real world, some links are weak, but they are present. The "weak link" is often more likely than the truly "missing link". For example, in an "implied contract" case requiring honesty and fairness in the termination decision, the weak link might be a signed "at will" employment agreement. Your proof as an employee would focus on showing that the "agreement" was procured by fraudulent misrepresentation and that you did not understand the "at will" clause.

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Bifocal #2: The Story

Dry cases produce lifeless results. Verdicts reflect the jurors inner sense of outrage over an abuse of employer power in violation of basic law and decency. Jurors understand from personal experience how our whole lives can be impacted from the hurt and humiliation of job loss. Therefore, your attorney has a duty to feel your story, and well as hear it. His duty then is to convey that feeling authentically to other hearts and minds who hold the power to decide. Every story has a compelling theme that best explains why things happened as they did. The most critical service your lawyer can provide, other than guiding your case through the system, is to construct and showcase that theme convincingly. Lawyers are not trained to be empathic, but to be analytical, and that is why so few rise to the top as trial lawyers. In truth, a lawyer has to "unlearn" certain (but not all) attitudes acquired in law school and professional associations. Look for a lawyer with a "corpus callosum"

Additional Resources

Gerry Spence: "Win Your Case"; D. Shane Read: "Winning at Trial"; Ralph Adam Fine: "The How-to-Win Trial Manual"

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