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The pros and cons of resolving disputes through arbitration

Employment disputes can get very ugly very quickly. In the more serious cases, there can be allegations of discrimination, harassment, wage discrepancies and other violations of state and federal employment laws. In these situations, it can be easy to assume that the matter will be resolved in a courtroom. Some people may expect this to be a sensational, highly-publicized event.

However, many employment disputes across Fort Lauderdale are not handled in a courtroom; they are resolved through arbitration. Arbitration is a method of dispute resolution that requires parties to go before a neutral third-party in private proceedings. Generally speaking, employers may prefer arbitration and include it as a condition of employment in a contract. But whether you are an employer or an employee, there are pros and cons of arbitration that should be understood.

The benefits or pros of arbitration can include:

  • Less formal legal proceedings, which can be far less intimidating
  • Swifter processes that can allow the dispute to be resolved more quickly
  • Potentially less expensive than litigation
  • Privacy of the parties and details of the dispute can be protected and kept confidential

However, there are some downsides or cons to arbitration.

  • Employees may feel duped as they may have agreed to the arbitration clause in an employment contract without knowing it.
  • There may be a perceived advantage for employers that have experience with the arbitration process and arbitrators.
  • Testimony, discovery and evidence guidelines can be less clear than in court hearings
  • Rulings are often binding which can make it very difficult to challenge a ruling that seems unfair or inappropriate.

Depending on your individual situation and whether you are the employer or the employee, some of the advantages of arbitration may seem like drawbacks and some of the downsides may actually be considered favorable.

In the event that you are facing an employment dispute or if you are considering an employment agreement that includes an arbitration clause, it can be crucial that you discuss your situation, goals and concerns with an attorney. A legal representative can explain what options you have and what you can reasonably expect as you navigate the legal system.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Employment Arbitration Agreements," accessed on Oct. 6, 2015

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