If you work in the oil and gas industry, chances are good that you will eventually run into wage and overtime violations. There are many ways in which these violations can occur. Improperly classifying oil and gas employees is just one common method. Regardless of how or why the violations take place, employees may turn to legal action in order to obtain the compensation that they rightfully deserve.
9 Steps of the Trial Process
How does the litigation process work? The following is a general overview:
- The litigation process starts with the filing of the complaint. The complaint is filed with the court and is sent to the defendant. In the complaint, the plaintiff outlines the alleged wage and overtime violations and explains the harm that was caused as a result. The complaint also includes a statement as to why the defendant is guilty and legally responsible to the plaintiff.
- In response, the defendant may request that the plaintiff clarify or correct deficiencies in the allegations laid out in the complaint. If such a request is made, the plaintiff may then amend the complaint.
- The next step is for the defendant to provide an answer. The defendant has a specific amount of time in which to file its response to the complaint with the court. The answer contains the defendant’s side of the story.
- After the complaint and answer are filed, the case is now “at issue,” meaning the issues for resolution are defined.
- Next, the parties begin the discovery process. The extent of the discovery process will depend on the issues of the case, and will impact the overall length of the lawsuit. During this process, the attorneys will engage in legal research, document review, and witness interviews. Discovery is used to gather the important information from the parties to the suit as well as from third parties. Discovery is done through interrogatories, which are written questions, requests for documents, requests for admissions of facts, and the use of depositions, which is where a witness is interviewed under oath.
- Just prior to trial, the parties may ask the court to rule or act by filing motions. These motions could ask the judge to dismiss the case, to rule on an issue, or to clarify a question.
- When the parties head to trial, each side presents evidence in support of their claims or defenses. This evidence is presented to either a judge or a judge with a jury. Both sides may call witnesses, introduce documents, and admit exhibits that support their arguments.
- After all of the evidence has been presented, each party presents a closing argument. The court then instructs the jury on the law relating to the case. The jury deliberates and reaches a decision or verdict.
- If the unsuccessful party wishes to challenge a jury’s verdict, an appeal may occur.
The length of time that it takes for a wage and overtime lawsuit to run from start to finish depends on a multitude of factors, including the issues at hand and the calendar of the court.
Alternatives to Litigation
Fortunately, there are other alternatives available to trials that can sometimes be beneficial to employees who are victims of a wage and overtime violation. The following is a summary of three such alternatives:
- Arbitration. One alternative to trial is to undergo arbitration. The parties to the arbitration select a neutral third party, known as the arbiter, to make a decision about their dispute. Arbitration is a shorter and less formal version of a trial. If the arbitration is binding, it typically cannot be appealed.
- Mediation. Another alternative to trial is to participate in mediation. Mediation is different from arbitration because the mediator, who is a neutral third party, is not deciding the outcome of the dispute. Instead, the mediator is helping with the settlement efforts. The role of the mediator is to help the parties understand the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case, as well as to identify the risks of the case in comparison to their goals.
- Settlement. Many people who pursue a trial ultimately end up reaching a settlement. Settling out of court can save both parties valuable time and money. Settlement can occur at any time during the litigation process.
If you work in the oil and gas industry and are not being paid the compensation that you are rightfully owed, we are here to help. We encourage you to reach out today for more information at (888) 449-2068.