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Alternative Dispute Resolution for Workplace Disputes

Justice with scales and a lawyer workingWorkplace conflicts or disputes usually arise in various work situations and settings. They could include issues between employees and employers and between coworkers. State and federal laws govern workplace disputes, but each state also has its specific laws that regulate workplace conflicts. There are likewise various federal laws that provide employment rights to employers and employees. Some of the most common workplace disputes involve the following:

  • Discrimination;
  • Harassment;
  • Hours, wage, and benefits conflicts;
  • Wrongful termination; and/or
  • Personal conflicts between employees.

These types of disputes could typically be filed as a class action lawsuit, especially if a company has strict policies that negatively impact a significant number of employees. Usually, however, before employees get a chance to file a lawsuit, an employer would try to resolve workplace conflicts with alternative dispute resolution strategies first.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Strategies in the Workplace

Workplace dispute resolution involves conflict resolution efforts arranged by the management and could include strategies such as the following:

  • Counseling;
  • Intervention by human resources;
  • Mediation; and
  • Other strategies like putting employees on probation or terminating them.

In general, ADR’s primary goal is to remedy or prevent further conflict, while using the resources of the company and without getting the court involved. When employed early on and effectively, it might be sufficient to fix any workplace conflicts of conduct issues. Do note though that while alternative dispute resolution (ADR) strategies are typically suggested by employers as an option, it’s not mandatory, says an experienced employment law attorney. Mediation and ADR strategies might not always be a viable option for resolving workplace disputes, particularly if the parties involved are not willing to work on their conflicts, she adds.

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What If ADR Doesn’t Work

If ADR is not enough to resolve your workplace conflict, the only recourse is to take the dispute to court. You would have to file your complaint with a federal agency like the EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Center, or file a lawsuit to seek damages. You might need to seek these remedies if your case involves more severe violations and conflicts like discrimination or harassment and could even reach the federal level.

That being said, it’s recommended that you have an employment attorney review your case if you agree to alternative dispute resolution to see that everything’s in order and if you want to go the litigation route or file a complain with a federal agency.