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A journal of work events is the foundation of a successful claim

Do you know what the most common, important advice lawyers who represent employers give to their clients? “Document, document, document“.  These lawyers know that detailed, contemporaneous notes and memos permit witnesses for management to be more detailed, clear, and credible. Employees should follow that advice, too. Employment disputes are not like car accidents: they don’t happen all of a sudden.  Almost always, the worker sees problems coming. As soon as the employee has this feeling, they should start keeping a journal. The journal should be worked on every day. Events, conversations, confrontations – anything the employee feels is suggestive of the problem that is arising, should be recorded in detail. With a journal containing detailed, contemporaneous descriptions of the events that occur, the employee will be a better witness.  The employee will be able to refresh their recollection by referring to the entries. The entries will corroborate the employee’s testimony.  And, the entries will provide a valuable tool for the worker’s lawyer to seek through discovery documents and testimony that corroborate the account of the worker. In wage disputes, detailed entries regarding time can be used to demonstrate that the records the employer relies upon are wrong. In a sexual harassment case, the many incidents that cumulatively add up to a hostile work environment can be recorded in detail, and the witnesses to them identified. In a performance case, incidents of good performance, and supervisory comment on them, can be recorded and preserved, even though the supervisor may later forget them. Various documents that the employee sees at work but is unable to “capture” by copying can be described in detail so that, later on, the worker’s attorney will be able to request them specifically, and pursue their production aggressively if the employer refused to hand them over. Perhaps most importantly, such a record will be of invaluable assistance to the employee in the process of looking for a lawyer, which entails explaining a lot of information in a short period of time. Remember, this document is going to be seen by everyone involved in the case: the opposing counsel, the judge, and, if it is going to do you any good, the jury. So stick to the facts.  Don’t ruin your credibility by making things up or exaggerating. And don’t put people off by saying things that are offensive, engaging in name-calling, or giving vent to anger.  I’ve published a Legal Guide on this subject, “When you see the handwriting on the wall, start putting it down on paper”.  Here is a link http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/when-you-see-the-handwritting-on-the-wall-start-writing-it-down-on-paper  If you have this feeling at work to such a degree that you think you should start journaling, give me a call. Let’s talk about your problem. Maybe I can help.

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