A letter of reference is a key term in a wrongful dismissal matter. It would be prudent in most situations to include the actual letter as a term of the settlement. Attach it as an appendix, along with a provision that the oral references are consistent with the content of the reference letter. In some situations, it is stipulated that the oral references are confined to what is stipulated in the reference letter. This way you have made the reference letter and the oral references an actual term of the settlement.
Most clients (employee side) have never had to retain a lawyer to represent their interests in an adversarial context until they are wrongfully dismissed. It is a daunting process for many, however, by consulting with an experienced employment lawyer, you will be in a position to make an informed decision.
I receive calls from people who want to ask me a “quick question” over the telephone and my response is always that I never provide legal advice over the telephone. You will be relying upon what the lawyer advises you and in order to properly advise you, they need to know all the relevant facts.
During the initial consultation, an experienced employment lawyer will thoroughly review matters with you. The experienced employment lawyer is not there merely to address the client’s questions in the initial consultation but he/she will ask you probing questions in order to determine whether there are any other issues that need to be raised in the context of settlement negotiations. In some instances, by asking these probing questions, the experienced wrongful dismissal lawyer will determine that in fact the employee had been a long term employee elsewhere when he/she was solicited away by the new employer to join their organization. This fact may be relevant to the assessment of damages in a wrongful dismissal case depending upon a number of other variables which will also be identified during the initial consultation. Similarly, there may be an issue of discrimination arising from inter alia, a perceived disability which will increase the heads of damages claimed in a settlement thereby increasing the ex-employee’s total monetary claim against the company.
When an employee has been wrongfully dismissed and offered a severance package, they want to know if they should accept it or whether they should try to negotiate for more. As such, the initial consultation is very important because the client’s decision about whether to proceed further is largely influenced by what transpires in that meeting. Given how important the initial consultation is – why wouldn’t you expect to pay for it?