Alternative dispute resolution is a growing trend in resolving Dallas and Fort Worth labor and employment disputes instead of leaving claims up to the courts and juries. These processes may apply to employment claims like discrimination, FMLA, wrongful termination and overtime pay claims. Mediation is particularly common and mediation occurs in almost all employment claims as an opportunity to reach a settlement without going through a costly trial. Arbitration is common in union claims where disputes are governed by arbitration provisions in the collective bargaining agreement. Although arbitration and mediation are often easier processes than litigation they come with their own challenges. Working with a Fort Worth and Dallas employment lawyer can help protect your rights through these processes with employment law.
Mediation in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas
Mediation is a settlement process where both employer and employee work with a mediator to reach a voluntary settlement. The mediator is not a judge and does not have the power to order a settlement. The mediator’s job includes facilitating communication between employer and employee to help the parties to find common ground and settle. If the employer and employee cannot reach a voluntary settlement they will leave mediation and continue down the litigation path.
Mediation is a flexible process and may occur in various ways in Dallas and Fort Worth. Mediation may take place over the phone or in person. It may be formal or informal according to the mediator’s preferred methodology. Mediation can occur in many stages of an employment dispute. In discrimination cases it is common to mediate after filing a discrimination charge but before filing a lawsuit. Mediation may also occur after filing the lawsuit but before trial takes place. The judge in an employment lawsuit may order mediation before trial to help the parties reach a settlement.
Hiring a Dallas employment lawyer for mediation
An employment attorney can be extremely valuable in mediation in Dallas or Fort Worth. Getting a fair deal in mediation requires understanding the value of your claims, the ability to effectively negotiate and the presence to make the employer credibly believe settlement will be superior to trial. Most employees are not experts in these skills and it is easy to undervalue an employment claim if you do not understand the types of relief permitted by law and the ways juries commonly award them. Mediation does not always resolve a lawsuit or claim but it can be effective with the help of a Dallas employment lawyer.
Arbitration in Fort Worth and Dallas
Arbitration is a non-judicial approach to resolving an employment dispute. Unlike mediation where the mediator has no power to bind the parties to a resolution, the arbitrator who governs the arbitration process will reach a binding conclusion that the parties agree to follow. If a lawsuit has been filed then the arbitrator’s decision may be entered as an order of the court. It is similar to the judicial process for employment law claims but generally a more streamlined process.
Arbitration involves a formal hearing with both parties and the arbitrator. Depending on the arbitrator’s preference, the hearing can be very formal and court-like or it can be more informal. Arbitration can be a beneficial process because it is often less complex and less formal than litigation. The arbitrator may have more experience dealing with employment issues than a judge. However, arbitration can also be undesirable in certain circumstances. In the trial the parties usually have employment attorneys representing them, just like in a Dallas or Tarrant County court. Sometimes businesses will be represented by their general counsel or business lawyer.
Arbitration process in employment law claims
Arbitration can arise in an employment or labor dispute in three ways. The employee and employer can voluntarily agree to arbitration after a lawsuit has been filed instead of allowing a judge or jury to render a decision. In a labor arbitration, the employee is a union employee and the union contract requires employment disputes to follow the arbitration procedure. Last, an employee may have agreed to arbitration by signing an arbitration agreement at some point in his or her employment. Employers often require employees to sign these arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. For most employees who enter into arbitration it is because their employer requires it as part of continued employment.
Arbitration is often a more streamlined process than litigation but that does not make it a simple process. There may be litigation-like processes, like discovery, and rules of evidence or procedure may apply. The arbitrator may follow the rules of an arbitration organization or may set his or her own procedures. Understanding the common rules to arbitration can help determine whether your claims must be brought in arbitration and how to best protect your rights through arbitration. Although it is a streamlined process it is still far more complex than small claims court. Procedural rules and technical employment laws still apply. Working with a Fort Worth or Dallas employment lawyer is key to presenting a strong claim.
How Dallas Employment Attorney Adam Kielich and The Kielich Law Firm can help
If you have an employment or labor claim that requires mediation or arbitration, I can represent you and your claims. You may have employment claims against your current or former employer that may benefit from mediation or arbitration. In representing you, I can determine what path best suits your needs and represent you from start to finish. Contact my office today to discuss your case.