Importance of Hiring an Employment Attorney for Trial

New York City Lawyers Skilled in the Litigation Process

Employment lawsuits can be stressful for a worker who is alleging discrimination, harassment, or retaliation by an employer. Both federal and state laws related to employment are complicated. Cases that clearly favor either the plaintiff or the defendant are usually resolved by settlement or dismissal and do not go to trial. However, many employment cases fall somewhere in the middle and have both strengths and weaknesses. Self-represented plaintiffs often lose at trial or get low awards even when they have a relatively strong case. If you understand the importance of hiring an employment attorney for trial, you will recognize why you should contact the New York City employment lawyers at Phillips & Associates. We have substantial experience and a strong track record at trials, and we invite you to explore our history of results for people in situations like yours.

The Importance of Hiring an Employment Attorney for Trial

Employment trials are often stacked against a plaintiff, and especially against a plaintiff who represents themselves or who does not have counsel who is experienced in these types of cases. Often, employers have most of the evidence in their possession, and they have a team of experienced attorneys working to make sure that the plaintiff does not get this evidence. They have the personnel files, the complaints, and the information about how HR responded to the complaints and which kind of investigation occurred.

During a lawsuit, an experienced trial attorney in New York City will know how to secure relevant and admissible evidence by making carefully worded discovery requests, asking the right questions at deposition, and going after important but hidden evidence by bringing a discovery motion. The only evidence that a plaintiff may have when an employer does not want them to win is their own testimony about what happened. At trial, an experienced attorney will know how to present compelling evidence and how to persuasively relate your story to the judge or jury.

Winning Cases for Plaintiffs

Employment lawsuits are difficult for plaintiffs to win. In a 2016 study of 160 cases in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York,1 there were 48 verdicts for the plaintiff, 108 defense verdicts, and four mixed verdicts in employment cases. The plaintiff victory rates in the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York were similar, with 28.6% plaintiff victories in the former and 31.1% plaintiff victories in the latter. Of a total 200 plaintiffs, 69 won at trial. Without the pro se cases, 34.9% won.

Often, an experienced attorney will make sure to assert claims of not only discrimination but also retaliation. Of the 61 discrimination-related claims that were won in the verdict stage, about 40% were for retaliation instead of discrimination. The next highest were sex discrimination and national origin discrimination, but there was a big gap. Generally, plaintiffs did better in lawsuits against private companies than they did in lawsuits against the government. However, this distinction mostly vanished when examining the outcomes based on the number of plaintiffs.


Liability in employment litigation is expressed in terms of monetary damages. Damages that may be available in an employment discrimination trial include back pay, front pay or reinstatement, and emotional distress damages. However, a plaintiff may not be able to obtain any of these damages if they are self-represented. Even if they are able to establish liability, they may not know how to successfully persuade the court of the degree of their emotional distress, for example.

In the study, the average emotional distress award in the SDNY and EDNY was $200,682. However, there are outliers. For example, in one SDNY verdict, the verdict was for $4 million, and this skewed the average. The highest verdict in the EDNY was $2.15 million. Generally, even if a plaintiff wins, there may not be a huge award for pain and suffering. This makes it all the more important to hire an experienced employment attorney to work up your case and take it to trial. You likely will only have the chance of getting a substantial award if you are represented and your attorney has thoroughly and compellingly presented your losses.

Most ordinary people do not understand federal, state, or local laws well enough to represent themselves for the entire life of a lawsuit. The strategy that must be deployed to win a case can vary significantly from situation to situation. The average time that it took from the filing of a complaint to getting to a verdict in the two districts was 34.9 months or almost three years. During this period of time, there are numerous filings that must be made in a timely fashion and numerous issues that need to be addressed within a short time frame. Often, there are post-verdict motions as well. When the employer (the defense) loses, there may be appeals, which can make it even longer for a plaintiff to achieve a resolution in the matter.

Consult a Knowledgeable Trial Attorney in New York City

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced trial lawyers help people who have been harmed by employment discrimination or harassment. You should understand the importance of hiring an employment attorney for trial and call us at (866) 229-9441 or use our online form to set up a free consultation. We handle employment litigation throughout New York City, including in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and in New Jersey.

1 Vivian Berger, “Winners and Losers: Employment Discrimination Trials in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York: 2016 Update,” 42 NYSBA Lab. and Emp. L.J. 39 (spring 2017).

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