Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
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Usually, the union will provide you with a lawyer. But if they don't or if you don't believe the lawyer is looking out for your best interests, you can retain private counsel. Doing so will likely cost you a few thousand dollars, but it may be worth it if you believe you have grounds to challenge the layoff and that the union representation is insufficient.
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Generally, arbitration will be your exclusive remedy. To sue you would have to prove that your union failed to take reasonable measures to protect your interests, and at this point it's far too soon to say whether that will happen.
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I would strongly consider it if you can afford it and are not confident in your union representation.
That's called contingency fee representation. When you call lawyers, you will just want to let them know that you are looking to be represented on a contingency fee basis. You may also wish to propose a hybrid contingency fee, wherein the lawyer received a smaller contingency fee percentage and also a reduced hourly fee. For example, instead of 33% contingency, they may only take 20% and charge half their hourly rate in exchange. This is a way of sharing the risk between you and your lawyer if you can't find a lawyer willing to assume 100% of the risk of working for free in the event you do not succeed at arbitration and recover financial compensation.
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