How to Handle a Lawsuit that Might Affect Your Career

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If you’re facing a lawsuit that might impact your career, whether you’re the one being sued or you’re bringing charges against someone else, you need a plan. Sometimes there’s no way to avoid certain consequences, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for how you’ll deal with them. If you’re feeling stuck, try the following tips.

1. Ask your attorney for advice

Hopefully, you’ve already got an attorney to handle your defense. Hiring a skilled defense attorney is crucial for getting the best case outcome. A lawyer is also your best source of legal advice.

Whatever you’re facing in your career, whether it’s a termination, potential termination, suspension, or you’re being stripped of some type of credentials, ask your attorney for advice. They can help you get through the situation more easily and with less stress. For example, your suspension might only be temporary and your credentials might be restored if you win your case. An attorney will inform you of these potentials if they apply to your case.

2. Don’t let your boss bully you

In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty in court. If your boss is treating you poorly or has fired you for being arrested and charged with a crime, they might be legally in the wrong. Technically, when employment is at-will, you can be fired at any time for any reason or no reason, but not when the reason is illegal. Employers who give reasons for terminations are more likely to be sued for discrimination than those who don’t give any reasons at all.

If you’ve been fired from your job because of your arrest or the charges you’re facing, you might have a good case against your employer. It’s worth getting a consultation with an attorney to find out.

In many states, it’s illegal to fire someone for simply having a criminal record, but employers in some states can terminate an employee for conduct related to their arrest if that conduct makes them unfit for their role. For instance, a bank might terminate an employee who has been convicted of check fraud. Generally, this would be a legal termination. However, if the employee was simply charged with check fraud or hasn’t yet been convicted, termination could be illegal.

3. Know your rights

Your employer can’t fire you simply for being arrested, but they can suspend you (paid or unpaid) or fire you for another reason. Your employer can suspend you for your arrest, but if they suspend you without pay and you are not convicted, they might owe you back pay.

These are important details to know because if you get suspended without pay, you’ll be missing quite a bit of income. If your employer won’t provide back pay, you might be able to recover it through a lawsuit.

4. Don’t talk to your employer without attorney advice

If your boss asks about your arrest, consult with your attorney before sharing any information. However, if they give you the green light to talk, don’t hold back or lie to your employer. There is no law preventing them from asking you about your arrest, and if they do ask you to explain the situation, it might indicate they actually care because otherwise, they would just fire you.

Talking with your employer about your arrest, with your attorney’s permission, is a good chance to explain the situation from your side and might even give your employer some peace of mind. It could go the other way, too, depending on your individual circumstances. Always trust the advice given by your attorney.

5. Don’t be surprised if your position is filled

Following a temporary suspension, your employer might fill your role. If your position is integral to business operations, they aren’t required to keep the role open until the end of your legal case.

You might want to prepare for the potential need to find a new job even if you aren’t convicted. Being arrested for something can make you feel uncomfortable around your coworkers if they know about it, and if you’re getting the cold shoulder at work, that might be a sign to move on to another company.

No lawsuit is the end of the world

Regardless of the outcome, it won’t be the end of the world. You might need to make changes to your career, like working for a different company or changing your line of work. However, if you can’t alter the circumstances or the lawsuit is necessary, you’ll need to accept the potential for a major life change.