Deposition Questions in an Employment Case
There are various types of employment litigation, including workplace discrimination, wage and hour cases, and retaliation. Many employment cases involve allegations that an employee was wrongfully terminated, either because of their membership in a protected class or because they blew the whistle about some inappropriate or illegal conduct by their employer. The case may be a simple breach of contract case in which an employer claims the employee was terminated for cause, while the employee claims they were terminated for no good reason in violation of their contract. Read on for a discussion of some of the most important questions to ask in any employment case. Contact our seasoned and detail-oriented Phoenix court reporters for deposition services throughout the state of Arizona.
Questions to Establish the Employee’s Quality
One of the most important things to establish in an employment case is whether an employee’s termination or other adverse employment action was undertaken for neutral, appropriate, or inappropriate reasons. Whether you are the plaintiff claiming the termination was wrongful or the employer claiming the termination was justified or, at the least, neutral and legal, here are a few questions to consider asking a supervisor or HR person:
● Was the employee ever given a good performance evaluation? A bad evaluation? How many of each?
● Was the employee ever promoted based on their good performance? Were they ever denied a promotion based on mediocre performance or some other issue?
● Was the employee ever reprimanded, officially or unofficially? What sort of disciplinary action was taken?
● Was the employee warned about underperformance or other misbehavior? Were they warned that they could be terminated if their performance or behavior did not improve?
● How did the employee respond to any such warnings? Did they correct their conduct, protest the warning, or ignore the warning?
Questions to Ask About the Company’s Policies
It is also important to establish the company’s policies insofar as they relate to the termination. If the employee was let go because they violated certain policies, or if the employee claims that their termination was a result of the company’s policy of treating certain people unequally, it is important to elucidate the company policies. Questions may include:
● Is there an employee handbook that clearly dictates the company’s policies at issue in the termination?
● Are employees given training upon hiring, and continuing education and training, concerning the employer’s policies and other legal issues?
● If the employee was fired for violating a policy, were they given the chance to attend a training to fix the issue?
● What are the company’s policies for disciplining employees? Are they legal? Were they followed here?
● Have other employees engaged in the same conduct as this employee, and were they treated the same? Were they disciplined more or less severely?
Questions About the Employer’s Conduct Generally
Both plaintiffs and defendants will also need to address whether the employer has a pattern and practice of any untoward conduct that may be at issue in this case. Questions to ask and areas to explore may include:
● Does the company have a history of litigation, especially about the issue in question?
● Had the employee, or any other employees, voiced any concerns about the issues at play (or allegedly at play) in the termination? Have any filed any complaints internally or externally with the EEOC or other organizations?
● What kind of employee turnover does the company have? Are there any concerning patterns at issue?
Questions About the Supervisor’s Relationship With the Employee
Finally, it may be worth exploring the relationship between the employee and their supervisor, especially if their supervisor recommended the termination or was otherwise involved.
● Did the employee and supervisor share a social relationship outside of work hours? Was there any form of romantic involvement?
● If they did share a social relationship, did either party end that social relationship shortly before the termination or other incident?
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