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Understanding Civil Litigation from a Plaintiff Employee’s Perspective: Time and Process

As an employee, you have the right to a workplace free from discrimination, harassment, and

retaliation. You also have the right to be paid the wages you earned. When these rights are

violated, you may have a legal claim against your employer. Civil litigation is the process of

bringing a lawsuit against your employer, for violating your rights. As a plaintiff employee, you

are the one bringing the lawsuit against your employer. If your claim falls under the jurisdiction of the EEOC, you need to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC before you can file a lawsuit. Here is what you can expect from the litigation process:

1. Consultation with an employment attorney (1-2 hours): The first step in bringing a lawsuit is

to consult an experienced employment attorney. Your attorney will assess your claim,

explain your rights, and guide you through the legal process. This initial consultation typically

lasts between one and two hours.

2. Filing a complaint (1-3 weeks): Once you and your attorney decide to move forward with a

lawsuit, your attorney will draft a complaint and file it with the court. The complaint outlines

the facts of your case and the legal claims you are asserting against your employer.

3. Service of process (1-2 weeks): After the complaint is filed, your attorney will serve it on your employer. This means that your employer will be officially notified of the lawsuit and given a copy of the complaint. This process typically takes between one and two weeks.

4. Response (1-5 months): After service of process occurs, your employer has around one

month to respond to the complaint. If your employer asks the court to dismiss the complaint,

the motions involved with defending against a motion to dismiss take about 3-5 months.

5. Scheduling (3-5 weeks): The parties meet with the court to create a scheduling plan that

includes deadlines for the lawsuit.

6. Discovery (6-15 months): The parties engage in discovery. This is where each

side gathers evidence and information to support their case. Discovery can include disclosures, written interrogatories, document requests, and depositions. Discovery can take anywhere from three to fifteen months, depending on the complexity of the case and the amount of evidence involved.

7. Motions (1-7 months): During and after the discovery process, either party may file a motion asking the court to rule on a particular issue. These motions can include motions to compel discovery or motions for summary judgment. Motions can take anywhere from one to six seven to resolve, depending on the complexity of the issue and the court’s schedule.

8. Trial (1-2 weeks): If the case has not been decided on a motion for summary judgment or it

hasn’t been settled, the case will proceed to trial. At trial, both sides present evidence and

arguments to a judge or jury, who will decide the case’s outcome. Trials typically last

between one and two weeks, although more complex cases could take longer. Preparation for trial is usually four to six months.

Litigation can be a complex and lengthy process. It can also be emotionally challenging, as the plaintiff employee may have to relive difficult experiences in the workplace. However, litigation can also be a powerful tool for seeking justice and holding employers accountable for their actions.

If you are considering filing a lawsuit against your employer, it is important to consult with an

experienced employment attorney who can guide you through the process, help you

understand your legal rights and options, and give you an idea of the time and resources

involved in the process.


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