Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why Talk to the Fisherman When You Can Hear From the Fish?

I have always thought that rather than listen to what a defense lawyer thinks are the reasons employees bring lawsuits against their former employers, you would be much better off hearing it from plaintiff's lawyers. Sort of a take off on the old saw, why would you listen to a fisherman about catching fish if you could hear the fish.

In any event Walter Crowson, a defense lawyer, gone, at least partially over to the dark side has these insights about why fired employees made their way to his office. The article was originally printed in the Texas Lawyer, Confessions of a Part-Time Plaintiffs Employment Lawyer.

His points (explained more fully in the article):

  • it's personal, really personal - meaning that in addition to losing a job, most employees are losing a huge part of their identity;

  • challenging their right to unemployment - may well be justified, and of course, you have to protect those rates; but it also may be the step that pushes the former employee to seek counsel. Really should make you think twice, particularly, if as is often the case, it is going to be an uphill fight to win.

  • Not telling them why - Very few states require it, Missouri perhaps, but only if they ask for a service letter; but not knowing is sometimes all it takes to keep them engaged with the past and not moving on. Just because you don't have to give a reason, doesn't always mean you shouldn't

  • Failure to understand communication involves hearing as well as telling.

Although I am much more like the fisherman — having done it for 30 years, what he says has the ring of truth to me.


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