Sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace is deplorable. It shouldn't happen and smart business operators understand the value of having policies and training in place as means of prevention.
Still, it occurs. And one of the biggest errors a Louisiana business leader can make is to think it could never happen in their company. All you have to do is look at the headlines of news releases on the website of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to see that these kinds of disputes can happen anywhere from local IHOP restaurants to major corporations. And the financial cost can be huge.
Choosing the process
There are policies such as employment discrimination liability insurance to cover costs when legal disputes do arise. But in today's environment of heightened awareness around discrimination, most would likely agree that proactive prevention is better. And if disputes do erupt, effective resolution can require finding a process that also protects the business's reputation.
So, to start assessing which method might be best to resolve your case, it can help to answer several questions.
- What are your objectives?
- Are there features of the dispute that suggest using one method over another?
Legal observers widely agree that there are three basic forms of dispute resolution. They are:
These can be seen as steps in a progression, all of which start with negotiation. Mediation features a neutral third party who works with both sides, allowing each to state their grievances. From there, the mediator helps guide the parties to reach terms both sides agree upon, but to which they are not bound. If poor communication presents a barrier to resolution, mediation may be ideal.
If opinions about the law differ, escalating the dispute to arbitration might be in order. The arbitrator is still a neutral third party. However, after presentation of evidence and positions, the arbitrator issues a binding decision. These typically remain confidential and cannot be appealed.
Litigation directs the dispute toward court and tends to be more expensive than the preceding methods. Settlements often are reached before the matter goes to a judge or jury.
Regardless of method selected, you can be confident that your interests and rights are being represented when you work with a firm of attorneys with demonstrated experience.