Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Employment Rights | Which Court?

"See you in court" is the tag line for any decent movie depicting lawyers.

Yet, unsurprisingly, the real world is not as colorful as the silver screen. "See you in court," realistically, may translate to "See you court, but which court remains to be known, since we're still undecided as to whether or not it would be more advantageous to file in District Court or Superior Court."

District Court in Washington State has jurisdiction over civil cases that are $75,000 or less. If more than $75,000, then the cases go to Superior Court.

District courts have lower filing fees, have trial dates much earlier, and have more limited discovery rules. In short, if you take a case to district court then it is cheaper and faster, but you have less opportunity to gather evidence to back up your claims.

Juries only consist of 6 people in District courts, but Superior Courts have 12. The courts also has different rules about how to write forms and when to file them.

The Washington State Small Claims Court, the fastest of the three options discussed, only hears cases worth $5,000 and below. There is an opportunity to settle before the trial with mediators, there is no jury, and appeals are from the record to Superior Court.

See you in court!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Employment Rights | DOL

Are you aware of the United States Department of Labor?

This question may not win you friends at a cocktail party, but like any federal government organization it demands examination, especially if you want to learn more about labor and employment law.

The DOL's mission is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights. 

Hilda Solis is the current Secretary of Labor, who presided over the 2009 Obama stimulus package that extended unemployment benefits. She also spoke out against the Wisconsin governor during the 2011 union fight:

"The governors in Wisconsin and Ohio aren't just asking workers to tighten their belts, they're demanding they give up their uniquely American rights as workers."

The Department of Labor website provides helping job-seeking information, statistics, employment-related news. For lawyers, the DOL posts helpful briefs under the appeals page.

Describing the DOL is like taking a drink from a fire hose . . . it is overwhelming! Tune in for future installments.