Last week, I talked about how the time spent litigating an employment discrimination case can be a big part of the cost of the defense of such a matter.

That "time" has another consequence as well: It increases the amount of attorneys’ fees that an employee has to spend litigating a case.

As a result, a relatively small matter can get quite expensive to attempt to settle.

Case in point: Over the weekend, the Hartford Courant reported on the settlement between a Connecticut Department of Transportation employee and the state.  The employee claimed that she had been discriminated against because of her gender and retaliated against as well.  (You can download the amended complaint here.) 

The terms of the settlement: 1) A Promotion; 2) Back pay in the amount of $16,000; and 3) Payment of her attorneys fees of $130,000. (Interestingly, although the Courant reported on it this weekend, the settlement was reported to the Court in August 2009 — a fact left off of the report.)  

And so, before your company goes down the path of litigating a matter against a current or former employee, take a hard look at the cost of such a matter. Even though the employee’s damages may be relatively small, the nature of the matter as well as the court process, can make even a small matter get quite a bit larger.