When you think of employment law disputes, maybe you imagine an adversarial system with attorneys, paralegals, discovery requests and expensive bills. There is another way to manage these disputes: alternative dispute resolution (ADR). One type of ADR is mediation.
Mediation has become an increasingly essential component of the legal system. In New York, for example, some courts will mandate or strongly encourage the parties to mediate their case if they do not attempt to mediate their dispute first.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a mediator facilitates a conversation between opposing parties. The role of the mediator is different from the role of the judge. The mediator does not listen to both sides to make decisions for the parties but helps them identify their priorities for the parties themselves to make decisions.
Of course, mediation is not appropriate in every case. However, it is an excellent alternative in some cases and a good starting point in others.
What are some benefits of mediation?
- It is cost-effective and much less expensive than litigation.
- It is a private process where only the parties and the mediator must be there.
- It is flexible. Mediation sessions can occur with all parties in the same room, in separate rooms, with the mediator going back and forth, or virtually via the internet.
- Mediation is highly effective in defusing conflict and fostering constructive communication so that the parties can continue the business relationship if they wish to do so.
Mediation is non-binding, and litigation is always an option, so considering it as the first step in conflict resolution may be worthwhile in your case.
It is important to note that for mediation to be effective, it is critical for all parties involved to participate in good faith and with the intent of reaching a reasonable compromise. You may not get everything you want in mediation, but litigation also involves the risk of getting nothing.