Solo & Small Firm

An Open Letter to Colleagues, Friends and Family Referring an Employment Law Case

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By Marina Kats Fraigun

Dear colleagues, friends and family,

I deeply appreciate your referrals of employment law cases.  Please don’t be frustrated when I do not take your referrals – I only take approximately 1 out of every 100 cases.  Because of the news and media, everyone thinks that any employment situation gone wrong is a lawsuit – that every termination they do not agree with is wrongful.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The vast majority of failed employment situations are not illegal.  Let me explain with a few of my most common examples – 

1.  It is not illegal for a boss to be a jerk – no matter how much of a jerk.  I can’t take these cases (unless, of course, the boss is a jerk in discriminatory or illegally harassing ways);

2.  Discrimination does not mean that you have to treat every employee the same.  Does not mean that every person who has the same position must be treated the same.  As a law firm owner, I can prefer a paralegal who has worked for me for 20 years over a newly hired, less qualified one.  I can pay one more than another, give her more hours and even treat one better than another.  Unless my preferences are based on a protected class or other protected reason, perfectly legal. 

3.  It is not illegal to fire people you don’t like or who other employees don’t like (again, assuming no discrimination or harassment is occurring).  

4.  Generally, mandatory overtime is not illegal and an employee can be fired for refusing to work required overtime. 

There are obviously many many more examples of employment practices that are not illegal.  

We also have to face financial realities.  There are many violations of law, but the damages are too small to pursue.  There are many companies that close up and leave employees unpaid.  Unfortunately, as much as my heart goes out to all of these employees,  I can not take a $2,500 case of unpaid commissions.  I am happy to give them some advice, but I can not be retained.

Finally, I do not represent clients who I do not believe and who I do not believe in.  I do not represent clients who are unkind to my staff.  I do not represent clients who are entitled or are unwilling to listen to (and understand) a reasonable evaluation of their case, its pros and cons and value. 

As you can see, these disqualifiers leave few cases – other Plaintiff’s employment attorneys have many more and different disqualifiers.   

So please – keep sending me the referrals – just understand that employment law requires a very stringent selection process.   But if I take a case, I am committed to it. 


Marina Fraigun 

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