Thursday, October 05, 2006

Employment Discrimination Mediation

I participated in an employment discrimination mediation this week as an attorney instead of as the mediator. My client had accused her employer of severe harassment and mistreatment on the basis of her race.

Going into this mediation, I was uncertain whether the parties would be able to come together and work out a resolution because of their extremely divergent positions on the facts and value of the case if it were to continue through a jury trial. The employee's claims were very serious and her "damages" (her lost wages and benefits and her resulting medical condition) were high. The employer denied the allegations almost completely and its initial position in the negotiation reflected that.

The mediator's skills and knowledge of the specific legal issues we were dealing with were very strong. Without the mediator's help in carefully finding common ground between the parties and in discussing the strengths and weaknesses of both parties' cases (resulting in both sides re-examining their own case values) and working with both sides to find the right solution for the problems, this case would have continued well into next year, at a minimum, assuming there would be no appeal of the verdict.

Because the parties were able to reach an agreeable solution now, well before the trial date, both sides are able to stop paying the mounting attorney's fees and litigation costs, stop worrying about the stresses of pre-trial litigation (with multiple days of depositions and in-depth investigations), and stop worrying about the uncertain outcome that ultimately would result in one party's investment into the case being proven to have been a bad gamble. The value of an "early settlement" for these parties was the resulting agreement they worked out between them with the help of the attorneys, but mostly with the help of the skillful mediator.

1 comment:

vimala said...

My husband is currently sleeping at a friend's house. He is in therapy to decide whether he wants to try and salvage our marriage. I am home with the kids. We have not been able (or willing?) to come up with a schedule for him to spend time with the kids during the interim. Is this something you would handle, and how much would it cost?