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How to Value Your Employment Case During Settlement Negotiations

Let's demystify a question that often lingers in the minds of many employees: "What is the potential worth of my case for settlement purposes?" This inquiry, while seemingly straightforward, unfolds into a nuanced exploration of several key factors that shape the valuation process.

1. The Strength of Your Case: Building Blocks of Success

We begin by scrutinizing the foundational strength of your case. What is the likelihood of success on your claims? This inquiry delves into the evidence at hand. Do you possess documents, emails, or performance reviews that substantiate your grievances? Are there witnesses who can provide firsthand accounts? In the realm of employment law, the burden of proof typically rests on the plaintiff's shoulders. Therefore, the presence of robust evidence is not merely advantageous but often pivotal. Without solid documentation, cases can easily spiral into a 'he said, she said' scenario, where employers often benefit from the shadows of doubt.

2. Credibility: A Pillar of Persuasion

The next facet we consider is the credibility factor, not only of you, the employee, but also of any supporting witnesses. Will your story resonate with a jury? This question delves into your professional history. Have you maintained a solid employment record marked by dedication and integrity? Similarly, the credibility and demeanor of your witnesses can significantly sway perceptions. Likeability, professionalism, and consistency can all play pivotal roles in the narrative of your case.

3. The Power of Precedent: Leveraging Comparable Legal Cases

Drawing parallels from legal history, we explore comparable cases with substantial damages. These cases serve as persuasive references, bolstering your stance for seeking substantial compensation. The more we can align your situation with past legal victories, the stronger the foundation for a favorable settlement becomes.

4. The Shadow of Scandal: Public Perception and Employer Response

In certain scenarios, the egregious nature of a case may prompt an employer to settle, regardless of legal culpability. Will the media seize upon the story, potentially sensationalizing the details? Here, the inclusion of confidentiality clauses can become a crucial bargaining chip. Employers, even if their actions are lawful, may opt to pay to shield their reputation from public scrutiny.

5. Types of Compensation and Statutory Considerations

Should your case prove successful, the realm of potential compensation opens its doors. Backpay, reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, and damages for pain and suffering are among the avenues to explore. However, it is vital to note the existence of statutory caps on damages. For instance, in discrimination cases, federal law imposes specific limits. The maximum compensatory and punitive damages often hinge on the size of the employer, frequently capped at $300,000.

In closing, we arrive at the understanding that each employment case is an intricate tapestry woven from these multifaceted factors. The path to determining its potential worth requires a meticulous assessment, considering every thread in this intricate weave.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For personalized guidance on your specific situation, please consult with a qualified employment attorney.


Deborah Yim is the founder and managing attorney of the Primera Law Group. She focuses her practice exclusively on representing employees and small businesses in all facets of labor and employment law. With over 22 years of legal practice, Deborah has also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, a corporate litigator at a national law firm, and an employment attorney representing the U.S. Department of the Interior. Read more about Deborah here.

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