Disclaimer: these tips are meant for people in serious situations where their rights are being violated and who can’t find an advocate or lawyer. These tips don’t work if you are using them to be a bully, a petty tyrant, an abusive consumer, or to just to be a jerk. If you make a big issue out of a petty concern, to be vindictive, or because you are a prima donna, you will offend and alienate people around you.
1. Act sooner rather than later: If you have an incident where you feel you’ve been treated unjustly by a company, employer, landlord or government body, act to resolve it as quickly as possible rather than waiting.
2. Keep track: If a situation looks like it may become a legal problem, document everything: keep all potentially relevant papers, emails, photos; take notes on dates, names, titles, phone numbers (and extensions), and any other relevant information in case you need it later.
3. Get accurate information: Find out what rules, regulations, rights, laws and governing bodies apply to your situation
4. Go up the chain of authority as needed. If someone with less authority can’t resolve your issue find out who does have the authority to resolve it.
5. Decide when to act and when to let something go: Balance your need for justice with consideration of the impact a long or difficult dispute may have on your health or your family. Sometimes people may later feel that the battle was not worth the personal toll. Or sometimes people realize too late that they should have fought for their rights immediately because the long-term negative impacts for them were huge.
Weigh the costs and benefits of taking action: If possible, get advice from experienced professionals as well as from wise and trusted personal contacts.
Example 1: A young labourer gets an injury on the job and is wrongly fired so he isn’t able to collect worker’s compensation. Several years later his injury is causing serious problems making it difficult for him to do physical labour. He realizes too late that he should have taken the injury more seriously at the time and fought the wrongful dismissal.
Example 2: A elderly retired businessman with poor health embarks on a court case over a business conflict. The battle takes several years and consumes his time and attention. He wins the case and even though he receives no financial compensation, he feels vindicated. But his long legal battle wore out his family. They felt he should have been enjoying his retirement years instead.