The Court Reporter’s Role in Wrongful Termination Depositions

October 11, 2019 10:08 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The relatively recent spate of right-to-work laws has actually had a surprising effect on wrongful termination cases by increasing rather than reducing their number. Basically, by not being required to state specific reasons for termination, former employees find it easier to make discrimination claims. This often means court reporters are endlessly busy with workplace depositions in Phoenix, AZ. This is an important role, and here are five elements that define it:

  • Accurately document company policy: A company’s policy is often the foundation of a wrongful termination defense. Employees may argue discrimination or ill treatment, but many employers argue that the termination took place due to a violation of company policy. Both the company and the plaintiff’s attorney review company policies thoroughly to see where there could be violations. There is often an escalation process as well—a warning for the first offense, a write-up for the second, etc. Plaintiffs may gain ground if the escalation process was ignored. That’s why it’s important to accurately document relevant company policies.
  • Gain supervisor perspective: Former supervisors are often the primary witnesses for wrongful termination claims. Whether they are deposed is a matter of when, not if. They testify to the employee’s work ethic, behavior, performance and other relevant traits. If an employee accuses a supervisor of harassment or discrimination, their deposition answers will likely determine the outcome of a case—especially if they are inconsistent or extraordinary.
  • Present a complete work history: Plaintiffs in a wrongful termination claim may have a history of dismissal for similar circumstances. If this is not the first time they faced termination for the reason stated by their previous employer, there is a chance that there is a pattern of behavior rather than discrimination. This may prevent the termination from being wrongful, and the claim can be dismissed.
  • Record outbursts: Wrongful termination claims can become emotional for all parties involved. Plaintiffs often feel victimized and are now worried about finances and finding another job. Accused supervisors and other parties may feel defensive or wrongfully accused. While most depositions are relatively sedate affairs, there are times when this stress builds up and people lash out at parties or attorneys. These instances can reflect on temperament, so it is important to have a court reporter document them when they arise.
  • Expose contradictions: Analyzing depositions for contradictions can confirm or deny a witness’ veracity or truthfulness. With it all on paper and the witness sworn in, it is difficult, if not impossible, to take these statements back in court. Oftentimes, these contradictions can end the case with a quick settlement rather than the stress and expense of a courtroom battle.

These important issues are addressed frequently in wrongful termination cases and require thorough documentation. That is why a skilled court reporter is vital. An accurate deposition transcript allows for better consideration of all issues that could lead to settling or dismissing these cases.

At Bartlett | Nix Reporting, LLC, we take quality workplace depositions in Phoenix, AZ seriously. Contact us today to schedule a court reporter for your next deposition.

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