Workplace Arbitration

Workplace disputes are common in all types of businesses and every employer encounters at some point. The larger the employer, the more frequently personnel concerns arise, conflicts occur, and claims or grievances are filed. On some occasions, the employee is terminated, other times, the employee is so upset that he or she resigns and asserts a “constructive discharge”, claiming that the working conditions were so intolerable that no reasonable person would have stayed employed. When preliminary attempts at resolving workplace conflict have failed, HR professionals are relied upon to decide the best course of action. Termination or other appropriate disciplinary actions may be imposed, administrative claims or grievances may be filed and lawsuits may follow.

Arbitration is a less formal type of dispute resolution. It is similar to litigation in several respects: it is an adversarial process, generally involving legal counsel, where one side is pitted against the other, and only one side will prevail. An arbitrator will hear the case: arguments are made, witnesses testify, and documents are presented, but the process is more informal in that it occurs in a conference room, instead of a courtroom, and the arbitrator has some discretion with respect to liberalizing the rules of evidence and procedures. The arbitrator will then render a decision, which may or may not be binding, depending on what the parties have agreed to in advance of the hearing.

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