Litigating in a courtroom isn’t always the best or most effective way to resolve an employment dispute. An agreement, handbook, or policy may provide an alternative means for dispute resolution provision (ADR).
The most common forms of alternative dispute resolution are mediation and arbitration. Both involve a neutral third party. In mediation, the neutral third party (mediator) works with the parties to resolve their dispute. The decision whether to settle, and on what terms, rests solely with the parties; a mediator cannot force either side to settle, nor does the mediator make a decision as to the merits of the parties’ dispute. Effective mediators, however, are trained and equipped in strategies that can advance settlement discussions, even in the most contentious disputes. In arbitration, the neutral third party (arbitrator) conducts a hearing, receiving evidence and witness testimony from both parties before making a decision on the merits. An arbitrator’s decision is generally binding on the parties. Sometimes, arbitration is preferable to litigation because it can provide a faster, private and final resolution to employment and labor disputes.
Deciding whether and how to use alternative dispute resolution for employment and labor claims can be tricky. Our team is well-versed in all facets of alternative dispute resolution—whether drafting ADR agreements, advocating for clients in arbitration or mediation, or serving as neutral third-party mediators or arbitrators. We help clients decide whether to use ADR for some or all of their labor and employment disputes, draft and help implement binding ADR policies. We also advocate for our clients in arbitration and mediation, and represent clients in the difficult and complex process of appealing arbitration awards, when appropriate.
While alternative dispute resolution isn’t the solution for every dispute, 90% of all civil cases in Minnesota settle before trial. We are committed to helping clients determine whether and how they can use alternative dispute resolution as an alternative to litigation.
Our Employment & Labor Alternative Dispute Resolution team offers a comprehensive range of services, including:
- Acting as neutral arbitrators and mediators
- Drafting alternative dispute resolution provisions for employee and independent contractor agreements
- Drafting and advising on implementing alternative dispute resolution policies
- Advocating for clients in labor and employment arbitrations and mediations
- Advising and representing clients in appeals of arbitration awards
- Successfully mediated a whistleblower claim in which a long-time employee alleged that she was terminated by the sole proprietor of a professional services company in retaliation for reporting the company’s owner to his professional licensing board for conduct that she thought was illegal. The employer defended the claim on the grounds that the employee was terminated for poor performance and a bad attitude. The parties reached a mutually agreeable resolution in a one-day mediation.
- Served as the arbitrator of various claims under a company’s policy that required arbitration of all employment related claims. The case was brought by an executive who was terminated. He initially made several claims, most of which were dismissed after discovery and a motion for summary judgment. The arbitrator conducted a two-day hearing and issued an order regarding the executive’s claims for age discrimination and retaliation, along with the company’s counterclaim that the executive was contractually required to repay certain advances he had received.
- Mediated a race discrimination and retaliation action prior to the commencement of litigation. This case involved an employee who complained about being treated differently and shortly thereafter was discharged. Our mediator brought the parties together for a mutually agreeable resolution.
- Successfully mediated an age discrimination and whistleblower lawsuit involving a 67-year-old executive who complained about illegal financial conduct by the employer, and was terminated within a week of his complaint. The employer claimed to have terminated him for falsifying his travel and expense reports.
- Mediated a complex labor matter involving the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a Union, the Union’s pension fund, and the employer over a claim that the employer failed to make required pension fund contributions. This matter was pending in federal court as well as an unfair labor practice charge pending before the NLRB. Our mediator bridged many of the issues with the parties, resulting in settlement.