Why do wrongful termination suits often settle out of court?

The kinds of novels you might find in an airport would have you believe that a brazen, determined employee can embark on wrongful termination suit and eventually bring the whole system crashing to the ground around her, having solved an international crisis in the process. In reality, this is rarely if ever how wrongful termination suits play out (let alone harrowing international crises). Most of the time, wrongful termination suits are settled out of court, for a number of reasons.

Settling out of court is often the best scenario for both the employee and the employer. For the employee, if his or her former employer is willing to settle out of court and the terms are reasonable, then the employee tends to value the sure thing over a potential loss in the courtroom. A study of wrongful termination suits from several years ago demonstrated that employees usually stand about a 50/50 chance of winning their case in the courtroom.

Similarly, for the employer, even if they believe that they can prevail in the courtroom, the process can be damaging to the company as a whole. They may suffer loss of public goodwill, or may be forced to disclose information about the business and its practices that they wish to keep under wraps.

However, this does not mean that you should not fight for a fair resolution to your wrongful termination claim. Simply because your employer wishes to settle out of court does not mean that you should not seek proper legal counsel. Moreover, you should seek strong legal counsel to ensure that your rights remain protected and that the terms an out of court settlement are truly as favorable as they can be.

Source: Findlaw, "Wrongful Termination Settlements: What Can I Expect?," accessed March 24, 2017

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