I own a nail salon. Two of my employees were in the process of opening a salon across the street while working for me. One of my customers notified me that these two employees were asking for her contact information so they can call her when their salon opens. When I got word of this I fired them. I am now being sured for wrongful termination, and not being paid for overtime. They are asking for $100,000 in damages. I have all their timecards, signed by the plaintiffs showing that they never worked overtime, and multiple customers that are willing to testify they had been asked by the plaintiffs for their contact information. I believe this lawsuit to be frivolous. Do I have a good chance at having a case like this dismissed? I would really like to avoid taking this case to court.
3 Answers from Attorneys
It is impossible to give you a satisfactory answer based on the limited information provided. An experienced California employment lawyer will need to review the ex-employees' lawsuit, investigate the factual allegations, and help you prepare a defense. Keep in mind that you generally have only 30 days from the date you are served with the lawsuit to file your responsive pleading; otherwise, you will be in default.
So, you need to retain an employment lawyer in your area ASAP to help you defend your case. Be sure to Inform the attorney of your desire to resolve the matter early on.
Mr. Korobkin is correct.
You really have no choice but to participate in the court proceeding until (a) after the plaintiff has had a chance at discovery; and (b) you can file a motion for summary judgment. There is no way to go into court now and show the judge that the claim lacks merit.
This is not a case where you should act as your own lawyer. Indeed, if you are sued as a corporate entity, you must hire a lawyer to represent you.
You may wish to check with your liability insurance carrier to see if you are covered for any of the plaintiffs' claims. A good employer-side lawyer will also help you investigate whether you have counterclaims against the plaintiffs based on their attempts to take your clientele.
I suggest you go through the Lawguru site and see if you can find a lawyer who practices in this area and can assist you.
You should hire an employment law attorney to represent you. You may be able to cross-sue the plaintiffs for taking or using your "trade secrets" including customer contact information. If your employees did not work over 8 hours in a day or over 40 hours in a workweek, you don't owe them overtime. An attorney may be able to convince them to drop the lawsuit, but more facts need to be known. If you ignore the lawsuit, they will be able to get an automatic judgment against you. It is best to hire an attorney asap.
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