FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT EMPLOYMENT LAW
Q: My boss fired me for doing something that several other workers were also doing. He didnít fire them, though. Do I have a case for discrimination?
A: Only if the reason your boss gave for firing you was a lie, and the real reason for the firing was something like your race, religion, gender, etc. Otherwise, your boss was within his rights, under the law, to single you out.
Q: I was denied a promotion. I realize the denial was lawful, but it was unfair. Doesnít my employer have a duty to treat me fairly?
A: Probably not, unless you have a written contract or an employee manual in which the employer promises fair treatment. Otherwise, the employer has no duty to treat you fairly.
Q: I applied for a job. At the interview I told the employer that I really canít handle the job because of my disability, but he has other jobs that I can do. Does the employer have to offer me one of the jobs that I can do?
A: There is no law that requires an employer to hire a disabled worker.
Q: My boss has been harassing me. Should I sue?
A: The law of harassment only protects employees if the harassment relates to sex, race, religion, etc. General meanness is not actionable under the law of harassment. If the employer has been treating you in an extreme and outrageous manner, however, you may have a case for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Q: I worked for several years in a high-level position. But downsizing has resulted in the elimination of my job. Does the employer owe me severance pay?
A: Only if there is a written contract that requires it. Otherwise, any severance pay would be out of the goodness of the employerís heart, or in exchange for confidentiality, noncompetition, or some other consideration.
Q: My boss treated me unfairly, and although I know that I probably donít have a strong case against her, I believe that she will be afraid of negative publicity and will offer me a quick settlement if I sue. My case will be an easy one. Will you do it on a contingent fee basis?
A: Probably not. Employers generally hire hard-nosed attorneys who hate to settle.
Q: Although I signed a covenant not to compete, I want to go to work for the competition. Iím not afraid because I know these kinds of covenants are not enforced by the courts. Should I go ahead and take the new job?
A: If a noncompete clause is enforceable, a court WILL enforce it. Have a lawyer review it, then follow his advice.
Q: I know I was discriminated against because of my ethnicity. Can I sue now?
A: Not unless the EEOC has issued you a right-to-sue letter. To get a right-to-sue letter, you must file a complaint for discrimination with the EEOC or analogous state agency within the limitation period (300 days after the discrimination for the EEOC).
Q: My employer is on the brink of financial ruin, yet he retaliated against me for something I was completely within my rights to do. Because of his financial position, he shouldnít act that way. I want to sue him and drive him out of business. What do you think?
A: If you put him out of business, what are you going to get out of it? The law can punish certain bad behavior, but think about how you are going to be compensated. You canít get blood from a turnip.
Q: My boss demoted me. She said it was because I was not performing according to the jobís requirements, but that is a lie. I know she is really just out to get me because I showed her up once. I know the demotion is lawful, but could I have a strong lawsuit anyway?
A: Possibly. In New Mexico, and very few other states, an intentional and harmful act may be actionable EVEN IF IT IS LAWFUL, if it is unjustified.
Q: I was the victim of an unlawful act on the job. The perpetrator, however, was not the employer, but a coworker. Should I sue?
A: Not if the coworker lacks ample assets. If you win, but the coworker declares bankruptcy, youíve wasted your energy and resources.
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