Do I Need a Lawyer | FAQ | Newkirk Zwagerman



How do I know if I need a lawyer?

You should contact a lawyer if:

  • You believe you have been discriminated, harassed or retaliated against at your place of employment
  • You believe there is illegal or discriminatory conduct occurring at your work, and you need advice on how to bring that to your employer’s attention
  • You believe that if you complain about discrimination or a denial of rights (work comp or FMLA) that you will be retaliated against.

If we think that you might have a case, we will schedule an initial consultation with you to get more information about your situation.  At the initial consultation, we will help you determine what, if any, remedies are available to you and whether Newkirk Law Firm can help you with your case.


What should I bring with me to my first meeting?


How do I know if I have been the victim of employment discrimination?

The law has a specific definition for what constitutes discrimination. Things like color, gender, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, and sexual orientation are all areas in which the law protects employees.  Please see our examples of discrimination, retaliation and harassment for further information.


How do I know if I have been harassed?

Harassment is more than just your boss being mean to you.  In order for harassment to be illegal under the law, it has to be based on one of the protected classes like color, gender, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, or sexual orientation.  For example, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment.  It is a common mistake for employers and employees to think that only sexual harassment is protected.  Harassment based on skin color or religion has the same protections under the law.


How do I know if I have been the victim of retaliation?

Retaliation can occur when an employee makes a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment, either on behalf of themselves or other employees.  The complaint must be based on discrimination or harassment to legally be considered retaliation.  Retaliation can also occur when an employee opposes a discriminatory or harassing practice or assists someone else in their complaint or opposition of discrimination and/or harassment.  Retaliation occurs quite often in our society even when the employer does not openly discriminate against women or other protected groups.  Retaliation often does not occur immediately after a complaint, and it is important to seek legal advice prior to retaliation reaching the level of termination.


In what areas does Newkirk Zwagerman Law Firm practice law?

Newkirk Zwagerman Law Firm represents employees, and there are many different types of employment laws designed to protect workers. Newkirk Zwagerman Law Firm has represented employees in all of the following areas:

1.      Title VII and other federal laws which prohibit discrimination in employment based on race sex, national origin or religion.
2.      Title IX which prohibits discrimination in education, including athletics.
3.      Equal Pay Act which requires that employees to be paid equally for performing very similar jobs no matter what their gender.
4.      Americans with Disability Act which prohibits discrimination against individuals with a disability.
5.      Age Discrimination in Employment Act which prohibits discrimination based on age.
6.      Family Medical Leave Act which prohibits some employers from firing or changing job duties of employees who take time off work for personal or family medical reasons.
7.      Iowa Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, physical disability, mental disability, age and retaliation.


How long does the litigation process take?

Each case is different.  Some cases can be settled before a lawsuit is even filed and some go to trial or even appeal.  Different factors go into how long your particular case will last, ranging from how complicated the case is to how badly the parties wish to resolve the issues quickly.  Generally, it takes about 12-24 months to get a trial date in civil court.


Is there a statute of limitation that I should know about?

There are different statutes of limitations that apply to different cases.  In a discrimination or harassment case you must file a civil rights complaint within 300 days of the last discriminatory act to preserve your rights.  If you are a federal employee, this time frame may be as short as 45 days.  There are some cases that have a two year filing deadline, and some that even have a four year filing deadline.  Each case is different, so it is essential for you to talk to an attorney to determine which statute of limitations applies in your case.  It is almost impossible to recover anything if the deadline to file your claim has passed.


How much is my case worth?

Just as with how long your case will take, there is no easy answer to the question of how much your case is worth.  There are a lot of different factors that can affect how much your case is worth, and for that reason, it is difficult to predict what a jury may award you.  Our clients generally recover damages in the form of lost wages and benefits, medical and counseling expenses and damages for emotional distress.  Our firm is also committed to pursuing change to the system or what is known as “equitable” relief.  Most of our clients do not pursue their claims for money.  Rather, they are concerned about protecting their families and others who may be subjected to discrimination or retaliation.  These kinds of changes are normally obtained through discussion with the employer or in an order from the judge.  We have a number of cites to verdicts that show the kind of monetary awards that Iowa Juries have provided on the Home Page of this website.


What does Newkirk Zwagerman Law Firm charge to represent me?

Normally, we take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not pay us an hourly rate.  We only collect fees from you if we win or there is a settlement.  If we do not win, then you do not owe us for our time.  However, clients are responsible for the expenses of the lawsuit, including filing fees, deposition costs, photocopying, postage, etc.  We understand that not all clients can pay these expenses and usually advance the costs for you.


How do I become a client of Newkirk Zwagerman Law Firm?

Please call or email our office if you think you may need our help.  Our staff will ask you some basic questions to get a better understanding of your case, and pass that information on to the attorneys.  If one of the lawyers believes they may be able to help you, we will set up an initial consultation.  Our initial consultation fee is normally $200-$300, which may be waived depending on the circumstances. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

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