Q. A former employee recently sued my business for discrimination. A few current employees have told me that her lawyer has contacted them seeking information. Is there anything I can do to stop this?
A. You need to tread very carefully. You could find yourself defending an offshoot retaliation claim if you try to interfere with an employee who wants to talk to or assist a plaintiff in a discrimination lawsuit.
Moreover, the lawyer may be well within his rights in contacting your employees. Only in very specific circumstances do Ohio’s ethical rules limit an attorney from talking to current employees of an opposing litigant.
The only employees to whom an opposing attorney absolutely cannot speak are current employees whose actions can bind the company or who are actively involved in the litigation decision-making.
That’s not to say that you’re powerless. If you are in federal court, anyone who has given a written or recorded statement to an attorney has an absolute right to receive a copy of that statement upon request.
Thus, if you are on friendly terms with the interviewed employees, you can suggest that they ask for and give to you a copy of their statements.
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