The Basics: Resolving a Lawsuit

If you are considering bringing a case against your employer, you may be envisioning a long and unpredictable battle in the courtroom. However, there are several ways that your disability discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit may be settled, and not all lawsuits necessitate a formal courtroom trial.

When your employer discriminates against you and you decide to take action, the employer is subjected to major financial loss far beyond that any rational organization would care to lose. The cost to defend a disability discrimination or other wrongful termination lawsuit is astonishingly high. For example, defense attorneys in California may cost employers $450 per hour or more if the employer does not have the proper insurance. For these reasons it is often in the best interests of the employer to settle a pending claim without an expensive and potentially lengthy trial. That is not to say that every lawsuit will be settled out of court without trial, but the vast majority of non-frivolous lawsuits are. There are three primary ways to solve a discrimination lawsuit: negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.

Negotiation

Negotiation is a tactic that both sides will employ to get the case settled. There are many different styles and strategies of negotiation. Negotiation is often initiated with a demand letter, which may propose a formal negotiation meeting. If formal negotiations break down, negotiation can continue to play a key role in mediation.

Mediation

Mediation is when the employer and employee meet and discuss the merits of their positions with a neutral 3rd party, a mediatory. The mediator will question the parties and attempt to get the parties to rethink their approaches and come to a final mutually agreeable solution. This process is informal, and generally non-binding, unless the parties agree to write out a settlement agreement during the mediation.

Arbitration

Arbitration is similar to mediation but is much more like a trial, although the arbitration rules are less formal than traditional court hearings. Arbitration may be the first resort for many employment cases because many large employers require their employees to sign arbitration agreements that require the employees to forgo suing the employer in court, leaving arbitration as the only resolution process.

There are many legitimate reasons why arbitration is the least favored dispute resolution system for employees.First, the employer’s arbitration agreement may require that the arbitrator be chosen from a specific panel of arbitrators. Although the arbitrators will not have any interest in the employer in particular, the employer may be a repeat player in arbitration so the arbitrator may slightly favor the employer so that the employer continues using arbitrators from the selected panel. Although most large arbitration organizations can avoid this problem, smaller arbitration panels are more easily susceptible to this bias. Second, arbitration may not allow the employee the benefits of having full discovery, which would allow the employee to obtain evidence that he or she might not otherwise ever get to see. Finally, arbitration generally takes away the right to a jury trial.

To learn more about lawsuit or settlement options for your disability discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit, contact California employment attorney Michelle Baker today. Schedule your free consultation online or call us directly at (858) 452-0093.