Many employees fear that if they need legal representation, their employer could find out and it may adversely affect their employment. This is a common fear in workman’s compensation cases, bankruptcy cases, divorce cases, etc. Ideally, you should be able to seek legal assistance and your employer does not need to know about it if you do.
One way to ensure that your employer does not find out, is to establish attorney-client privilege with a lawyer. Contact an experienced attorney. Attorney-Client privilege is one of the oldest and dearest privileges in the legal profession. The United States Supreme Court has stated that by assuring confidentiality, the privilege encourages clients to make “full and frank” disclosures to their attorneys. In turn, the attorneys are then better able to provide candid advice and effective representation.
There are, of course, exceptions to this privilege.
- Crime-Fraud Exception: If the communications between attorney and client are used to commit a crime, tort, or fraud.
- Lawyer’s Own Interest: if the attorney is seeking to collect payment for services rendered
- Probate: if the attorney must use notes and correspondence to prove a client’s will in court
Establishing Attorney Client-Privilege
There are three basic elements that must be met to establish attorney-client privilege:
- You are a client (or are seeking to become a client) of the attorney.
- The person in whom you are confiding in is a lawyer (defined as a member of the bar or a subordinate of a bar member, like a paralegal).
- The communication is for the purpose of securing legal advice.
If you seek legal advice, be sure to meet the following three elements to assure that the attorney-client privilege has legally been established.
Be aware that if the legal service you are seeking directly affects your workplace performance or pay, then there is a high chance that your employer may find out anyway. For example, if you were injured in the workplace and filed for workman’s comp, chances are your employer will know if and when you retain outside counsel. Your employer cannot fire you for filing a workman’s comp claim or hiring an attorney.
If your paychecks need to be garnished due to a bankruptcy or divorce case, you employer will have to be notified. In this case it is usually by court order that your employer will be made aware of your circumstances.
If you are interested in speaking with an attorney, contact an attorney today.