Say No to This Lawyer's Shakedown

Resist the temptation to sue just to win a quick settlement.

Q: I am a 50-year-old white male who was recently laid off in a large downsizing after a long period of unprofitable operations at my company. I’ve been contacted by an employment attorney who is apparently approaching many other riffed employees, suggesting that we all file discrimination actions on various grounds. I told him I’m not inclined to do so. In my long experience, the company seems to be very progressive about hiring and promoting minorities, women and older workers. As best I can tell, the layoffs fell similarly on people of different backgrounds and levels of seniority. Our severance payments seem pretty generous, too.

The lawyer said that all of this may be true, but he can still get me at least a $10,000 settlement (after his contingency cut) just by rattling the saber of age discrimination. He says I would be a fool not to go for it, as many of my former colleagues are doing. I could sure use the extra money, but I’m uneasy about this.

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Knight Kiplinger
Editor Emeritus, Kiplinger

Knight came to Kiplinger in 1983, after 13 years in daily newspaper journalism, the last six as Washington bureau chief of the Ottaway Newspapers division of Dow Jones. A frequent speaker before business audiences, he has appeared on NPR, CNN, Fox and CNBC, among other networks. Knight contributes to the weekly Kiplinger Letter.