Do I Give Up Any Rights Pursuing Employment Arbitration or Mediation?

It depends. As a condition of employment you may have signed an arbitration or mediation clause in your employment contract which would make those procedures the exclusive forum for dispute resolution should you ever be involved in an employment dispute. By entering into the employer’s contract of employment containing such an agreement, you may have waived your legal right to a file a civil action in court. In a series of recent employment and labor cases, the U.S. Supreme court has upheld an employer’s contractual right to enforce its contract containing arbitration or mediation clauses to resolve most employment disputes and determined that they are within the scope of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Therefore it is very important to review your employment contract to determine whether as a condition of employment, arbitration or mediation are identified as the proper forums to resolve your employment dispute. If there are no such restrictions or waivers, you may seek the assistance of an arbitrator or mediator through the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service (FMCS) or American Arbitration Association (AAA) panels to help resolve your dispute. It is not uncommon to feel slightly hesitant about engaging in this process if you’re not familiar with it, so it’s a wise idea to educate yourself about how the arbitration and mediation process works.

One common question about the process of employment arbitration and mediation has to do with whether either party gives up any rights by opting to resolve their dispute outside of court. Note that arbitration and mediation is a voluntary process [absent existing contract clause] that is not governed by a judge. Instead, you and the other party indicate your wish to resolve your dispute using a neutral third-party as an arbitrator or mediator. In mediation, you’re not compelled to resolve your dispute through assistance of the mediator who lacks legal authority to impose a settlement or agreement. But a central tenet throughout either of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes is the parties’ good faith in coming together in order to resolve their dispute. Arbitration brings finality to the dispute since the parties grant authority to an arbitrator to resolve their dispute for them and determine an appropriate remedy, when warranted. The arbitration and mediation process is an efficient, quicker and less expensive manner for handling these workplace disputes than litigation.