Few controversies are more damaging and distracting to a business than an employee dispute over civil rights.
In Arizona, a single complaint to the Arizona Civil Rights Division or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will result in a time-consuming and distracting investigation. This can leave a business “bleeding and in the red” after paying legal fees or a jury award.
Mediating a civil rights charge is the best path for a company facing an investigation.
Mediation is a much better way to go. If your company is undergoing a civil rights investigation, you should be open to it, guided by civil rights mediation representation from an employment lawyer.
Civil Rights Mediation Keeps Your Company Out of Court and the News
Too often, a company’s knee-jerk reaction is to undertake full-blown litigation to answer an employment dispute.
But litigation is tough to end once it starts. Each step of the litigation process snowballs into another. Tl too often, businesses find themselves resolving cases on the courthouse steps after paying a lot in economic and emotional costs. Many–if not most–cases should have been resolved far earlier through a civil rights mediation with an experienced employment attorney at your side.
An employment attorney with experience in Arizona civil rights can minimize and sometimes eliminate disruption and lower the cost to businesses facing charges from the EEOC or state Civil Rights Division.
As the number of employment litigation cases increases, more parties are turning to civil rights mediation to settle wrongful termination or discrimination charges. Mediation saves both parties significant costs in attorney fees and court expenses.
For employers, mediation also can prevent them from losing business opportunities and avoid bad publicity because mediation is a private matter. Court proceedings are public and can be reported in the press and online. A judge can order a verdict and settlement to be sealed (kept private), but a contentious case is juicy news most businesses want to avoid.
The entire mediation process, though, is completely confidential. There’s less stress on both parties. Even if an employer isn’t happy with the outcome, at least he or she can swiftly return to the running the business.
Mediation is voluntary. Both sides must agree to it and cannot be compelled to agree to mediation unless the employment contract requires this. Best of all, a mediator is a neutral party whose job is to help both sides negotiate an agreement by exploring and evaluating settlement options with each side, in private. Neither party will know the options the mediator offers the other.
Is an Employment Lawyer Necessary for an Arizona Civil Rights Mediation?
Although mediation appears informal, the process requires significant planning, preparation, and hard work. You need experienced civil rights mediation representation to help you through the process.
This is your business, after all, and you want to be as ready as possible. Preparation can take more time than you’d expect. Interviewing and preparing witnesses to testify is a skill; so is assessing and compiling documentation to show the mediator.
You want your company to have a strong defense against a charge of discrimination because this can influence the employee to settle on the fairest possible terms for you. An experienced employment lawyer can also draw out what I’ve found many aggrieved employees, particularly ex-employees, really want: an apology, a reference letter, and an agreement not to contest unemployment benefits.
An employment attorney skilled in civil rights mediation representation will help a company develop an effective “offer and concession” negotiating strategy to reach this goal, which is really the best settlement a business can get when defending against a civil rights charge. Another key point is ensuring that settlement terms remain confidential so that other employees don’t have an incentive to file similar claims.
In many cases, civil rights mediation is the right choice. It clearly identifies legal issues and disputes, fixes miscommunications, and crafts a solution with significant input from both parties. It can’t prevent the disputes from arising, but it can resolve them in a way that is fast, efficient and satisfactory for everyone involved.
If your company is facing any type of legal threat, or you have a mediation scheduled before the EEOC or the Arizona Civil Rights Division please contact our office immediately for a consultation.