3 Tips on Documenting Your Iowa Wrongful Termination Claim

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Posted by Laura Schultes

If you believe that you have been wrongfully discharged from your job in Iowa – or you think the writing may be on the wall that you are going to be fired soon – you may be wondering how you prove your wrongful termination case. An experienced attorney can explain how indirect evidence may help you do so.

But it is equally important that you maintain good documentation of what your employer has been doing.

On their side, smart employers who have attended seminars where attorneys or human resources professionals instruct them to “document, document, document” are usually good at creating a paper trail to support their decision. They are told not to fire any employee unless there is a written record supporting the firing. They recognize that memories tend to fade over time, and they appreciate the reality of the courtroom: “If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen.”

The same rules apply to any Iowa worker facing termination at their place of employment.

1. Take Notes During Your Employment Evaluations

For example, if you are called into a meeting with your supervisor and a human resources representative, and your supervisor starts describing perceived issues regarding your work performance, take notes during the meeting.

If note-taking is not permitted or seems inappropriate under the circumstances, write down everything you remember about the meeting as soon as you can, while it is still fresh in your mind. If you do this and issues later arise regarding what was said, you will have a better chance of being believed if you have written notes that support your version of the events.

2. Record Any Conversation You Have With Your Employer

Almost everyone these days owns a cell phone that permits them to record conversations. If you are called into a meeting with your supervisor that you believe may turn negative, recording the meeting may be the best way to document what was said. Iowa law allows the recording of conversations so long as at least one party to the conversation – you – is aware that the recording is happening. This same rule applies to meetings and telephone calls.

You may or may not feel comfortable secretly recording meetings, conversations, and telephone calls with your employer, or you may decide that secretly recording your boss is not appropriate given your particular work environment. One thing is almost certain: if you ask permission to record the conversation, your request will likely be denied.

Regardless of where your own comfort level lies, check to make sure your employer does not have a policy prohibiting its employees from secretly recording meetings or conversations. As stated above, if you fear you are being targeted, you do not want to give your employer a new reason to fire you.

3. Keep Copies of Any Important Employment Documents

In addition to taking and keeping good notes, it is also important to keep a copy of key documents related to your employment or discharge.

We have met with Iowans who believe they were illegally fired, but the only document they kept regarding their employment is the written termination letter they received. We have also met with employees who were fired after they allegedly failed to meet the goals stated in a performance improvement plan (PIP) but they don’t have a copy of this plan.

An attorney may eventually be able to obtain copies from the employer directly but sometimes they can’t do so until after a lawsuit has already been filed.

These types of documents can provide important information to an attorney early in your case and – in some instances – help an attorney to negotiate your case without having to go to court.

For that reason and others, you should keep important documents and records. Most employers cut off a discharged employee’s access to work computers and email, so it’s a good idea to keep documents like this in a personal storage location or in your personal email account.

If you would like to discuss your case for free with an experienced Iowa wrongful termination attorney, call RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1903.

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