Once your case survives all motions the employer launches to kill your case, you then can have your constitutional right to a jury trial, to have a jury of your peers resolve your dispute.
A trial consists of the following:
- Jury selection. At trial, first the parties will select a jury. This means that the judge or the lawyers or both (mostly the judge in federal court) will ask questions of the jurors to make sure that they can be fair and impartial to both sides.
- Opening Statement. The opening statements are an opportunity for each side to tell the jury what they expect the evidence will be. This gives the jury a preview of the case.
- Evidence. The testimony of all of the witnesses and the admission of the documentary evidence (much of which may have been previously admitted during the pretrial phase).
- Closing Argument. Closing arguments is where the lawyers tell the jury why they believe the jury should rule in favor of their clients.
- Jury instructions. The judge then instructs the jury on the law. The jury will then go to the jury room to deliberate and reach a verdict. They are instructed that only the evidence and the law, i.e., jury instructions and the evidence, should be considered in reaching their verdict.
After the jury reaches a verdict, either party can ask the judge to change the ruling if it believes the jury was unreasonable. In federal court, the judge may reduce the amount of money awarded, may order a new trial, or may change the verdict. Generally, the judge will only do this in exceptional circumstances.