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How Long Does It Take to Conclude an Employment Lawsuit?

How Long Does It Take to Conclude an Employment Lawsuit?There is no easy way to predict the amount of time it will take to litigate an employment lawsuit. There are many different variables, including the strength of the claims, the damages incurred and the settlement positions taken by both the plaintiff and the defendants. The short answer is employment lawsuits can take several years to complete, whether by way of judicial determination or settlement and in others instances it is over within a matter of months if it can be resolved through a settlement.

The vast percentage of employment lawsuits never get to trial. Most employment claims are resolved prior to trial through a settlement agreement between the parties, plaintiff’s voluntarily or involuntarily dismissal by a judge. In cases that proceed to trial and reach a verdict, any appeals filed thereafter can prolong the case even further.

From the perspective of our employment lawyers, an employment lawsuit begins the moment a prospective client contacts our office and undergoes the initial intake process. Determining whether a person has a viable employment lawsuit involves an extensive and detailed analysis by our team of employment lawyers of all relevant facts relating to the potential client’s employment situation and potential laws that may have been violated by the employer’s actions and/or inactions.

If a determination is made that there is a viable employment claim, the next step is to determine whether to attempt to negotiate a pre-litigation settlement of the claim(s) or file the lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed, the employer has 35 days following service of process to file an answer to the Plaintiff’s complaint. This is called the pleadings stage of a lawsuit.

After the pleadings stage of a lawsuit, the parties will then proceed to the discovery phase of a lawsuit. The large majority of time of a lawsuit takes place in the discovery phase. The discovery phase allows both parties to learn about the relevant facts by obtaining evidence from one another and/or through third parties. Written discovery includes serving interrogatories (written questions) on other parties, that must be answered concerning relevant facts and issues of the pending lawsuit. Written discovery also includes obtaining documents, electronically stored information such as documents, emails and text messages, photographs and other forms of evidence. Depositions can also take place during the discovery phase of an employment lawsuit which is an in-person question and answer session where testimony is adduced under oath and is transcribed by a court reporter. Claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and Conscientious Employee Protection Act, two common employment claims, are subject to Track III for Discovery, which provides 450 days for the parties to complete discovery. Other employment claims are subject to Track II for Discovery, which provides for 300 days for the parties to complete discovery.

If the case is not settled or dismissed during the discovery phase of the lawsuit, one or both parties may attempt to win or dispose of the case (or aspects of the case) by way of a motion for summary judgment. A motion for summary judgment is a filing with the court asking the judge to determine that trial as to the entire case, some of the claims or one particular issue is not necessary because there is no issue of disputed fact and therefore the filing party wins. For an employer to win a motion for summary judgment to dismiss an employee’s lawsuit, the court must assume all the material facts of the employee’s claims are true, and nonetheless do not constitute a violation of the law.

If the case survives the discovery phase and is not dismissed by prior trial motion for summary judgment, the case will move on to trial. The length of a trial depends on the amount of evidence that parties wish to introduce to the jury and in which the judge will allow it to be introduced to the jury. Trial motions, opening statements, introduction of documents, witness testimony, closing statements and jury deliberations will determine the number of days of a trial. After trial, the parties can appeal the decision of the jury or rulings of a judge during the trial, which will also increase the length of an employment lawsuit.

A lawsuit is not necessarily over after trial, and in fact, is quite common for one or both parties to file an appeal concerning the verdict at a trial. In New Jersey state court, a party can file an appeal first to the Appellate Division and then to the New Jersey Supreme Court. The time for adjudication of an appeal varies depending on the issue and when the appellate courts render their decision.

Because of employment lawsuits are time-consuming and require extensive attorney fee time and costs, there are many pressure points during the discovery phase that often make settlement a viable option to both the employer and the employee. However, not every case settles, and in the situations, cases that are not able to be dismissed by the employer can go on for many years until final resolution.

DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Client Reviews
We had a wrongful termination issue combined with a denial of unemployment insurance. Chris Eibeler was our primary attorney. His partner Bob Smith also consulted and gave us good advice. They were both so kind, caring, and professional. They guided us though a very tough time and a positive outcome versus a prior employer. They were also able to reverse our denial of unemployment insurance. I cannot recommend Smith and Eibeler highly enough. The entire staff is very professional, personable, and caring. Tom Wilson
I went to Smith Eibeler LLC for a last minute unemployment matter. Chris, Diane and his staff were very professional and easy to talk to. They provided knowledgeable insight and also kept me in the loop with the what was happening. I would not hesitate to go to him again. John Jung
Chris Eibeler (and the whole team) is very knowledgeable in all aspects of employment/unemployment here in NJ. They break down the most difficult aspects of the law, which allows you to conceptualize and better understand the complexities of the NJ Labor & Employment system. Smith Eibeler should be your first call regarding any Employment, workforce, or Labor questions here in New Jersey. I highly recommend them. Brian Allen
I approached Chris Eibeler regarding an unemployment case in early 2016. Him and his staff are some of the most professional people I have ever dealt with. The process took a while, but his approach to hard questioning helped me win my case. He knows how to get the job done and I am glad I went to him. I would recommend him to anyone in the future who asks for a lawyer. Thank you Chris! Tim F.
I highly recommend the office of Smith Eibeler for employment related issues, particularly anything related to restrictive covenants or post-employment contracts. I found Smith Eibeler via the web and cannot believe how fortunate I am to have found them. My case was handled by Bob Smith who represented me in a potential lawsuit by my former employer for violation of a post-employment contract (not a restrictive covenant per se). Bob was professional, friendly, understanding, and above all extremely helpful. Bob helped me avoid a lawsuit and was extremely knowledgeable in this field. I was thoroughly impressed with his prowess. Hopefully I will never have a legal issue related to employment again, but if I do, I will not hesitate to retain Smith Eibeler again! Gavin Tully

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