Employment disputes can feel deeply personal and potentially life-altering for employees. Reputation and careers are at stake. A public battle in a court of law, even if won, may have a negative impact on the employee’s chances for future employment, or, if the employee is still employed while the lawsuit is pending, life can begin to feel very uncomfortable in the workplace.
For the employer, lawsuits can be expensive and precedent-setting as the case proceeds through the courts. Both parties, after a lawsuit is filed, have a vested interest in winning, which can often lead to entrenched positions.
Most employment disputes settle before a trial begins, but often after a judge makes rulings before trial that could hurt either side – or both.
Mediation is frequently part of the settlement process, and is an ideal tool for employment disputes if the employee and employer reach a stalemate in negotiation. Employees and employers should consider mediation early in the process, even before a lawsuit is filed.
Mediation jump-starts negotiations
The litigation process in court essentially pits the parties involved in a dispute against one another as adversaries.
Mediation requires that both parties work together to find a mutually agreeable solution. The cooperative nature of mediation can be particularly beneficial when the employee wants to stay at the company and wants to preserve relationships with management and colleagues.
Mediation is confidential
Settlements reached in mediation are confidential. Everybody compromises, but the matter comes to an end with less expense and anxiety and far from the public view. When a mediator helps the two sides of a dispute find a common middle ground, the employer and employee can negotiate terms that work for everyone going forward.