Diligent job search can save your case

Date: 2006
Author: Daniel A. Lublin
Publication: Metro
Succeeding with your termination case takes more than an excellent set of facts, a great lawyer and a little bit of luck on your side. Many good cases go awry because a dismissed employee does not look for another job. The law refers to this principle as mitigation and it requires a dismissed employee to make a diligent search for another similar job. If you do not, the damages you can claim may be substantially reduced. Therefore, I offer the following recommendations for employees to help build their case:

  1. Keep a documentary file — You must be able to prove that you have sought out alternative work. As soon as you’ve been terminated, you should begin by keeping a well documented file of all the job applications you send out. The more relevant documentary evidence you can gather, the stronger your case becomes.
  2. Track your expenses — In a lawsuit, you are allowed to claim reasonable expenses you incur in looking for another job. It is, therefore, important to document and preserve all your receipts for expenses such as office supplies, photocopies, transportation, and other relevant expenses.
  3. Search frequently — I recommend you prepare to prove you’ve been regularly attempting to look for another job. If no comparable job to the one you’ve lost is available, you must find a way to show you’ve been diligently looking for work on a regular basis.
  4. Build a professional resumé — Your resumé and cover letters will become evidence that is used in your case. A clearly deficient resumé goes a long way in showing why you’ve been unsuccessful in looking for a job.
  5. Apply for a number of positions — If you are finding positions within your area of expertise are hard to come by, you can’t give up your job search efforts. Your case is bolstered by broadening your search to include jobs that may be outside of your specialty but might otherwise be acceptable.
  6. Use private employment agencies — Many agencies are paid a fee for finding candidates for a position. These agencies also offer temporary work if permanent positions are not immediately available. By registering with an agency you show you’ve made real efforts to find employment, which can assist your case.
  7. Don’t confine your search — Many dismissed employees only look for work in a narrow geographic area. In my opinion, this is a mistake. You do not necessarily have to accept any given job you are offered, but you do have to show you have been looking. If you are finding a lack of jobs in a particular area, you can help build your case by applying elsewhere.
  8. Follow up — A proper job search requires you to follow up with the positions you’ve applied for and with companies where you’ve had an interview. Being unrelenting helps support your job search efforts.
  9. Outplacement counselling — An outplacement counsellor can assist you in focusing your attention on transitioning into new employment. You should make use of this service, primarily for developing your resumé, polishing your interview skills, and helping you to find opportunities.