La Mesa Employment Dispute Lawyer

Considerations in Resolving Your Employment Dispute

When contemplating a resolution of your employment law claim either through informal negotiation, mediation, arbitration or another method of alternative dispute resolution it is important to have a realistic understanding of your rights as well as the critical issues that will be raised before there is any effort at resolution. An experienced employment law lawyer can help you understand the realities of employment litigation, including considerations that may play a vital role in the resolution of your case.

Employment law attorney Michael M. Freeland, at Freeland Law APC, is known for his experience, dedication and perseverance in resolving employment disputes on behalf of employees and employers in California. Much of our firm's success is attributed to Mr. Freeland's ability to thoroughly examine and identify the unique factors of each case and to tailor a resolution strategy based upon those issues.

Have you been presented with an offer to settle a discrimination claim against your former employer? Is your business facing a claim for wage and hour violations involving unpaid overtime and alleged employee misclassifications? Mr. Freeland can help.

Below are some of the issues to consider in resolving your employment dispute:

  • What is the full value of the case? Both sides of the case should identify the full scope and amount of potential liability or damages sought to the extent possible. An accurate assessment may include consideration and evaluation of lost wages/back pay, future lost earnings, emotional distress damages, reimbursement for attorney's fees and other damages. Depending on the nature of the case, punitive damages may also be sought.
  • What is the nature of the employee-employer relationship? The size of the employer's business, the nature of the business, and the employee's employment status (whether a former or a current employee) all can make a significant difference in the strategies used to resolve the dispute, the remedies sought and the considerations that must be weighed when contemplating resolution.
  • What are the risks and costs of proceeding to trial? There are inherent risks associated with proceeding to trial in every case. (i.e. How credibly will each witness testify? How solid is the law supporting your legal arguments? etc.) It is important to evaluate these risks. Associate with these risks may come additional benefits, but also additional fees and costs. You may also consider the benefits/costs of mediation, informal settlement negotiation, or some other resolution method. Further, if you are already in a lawsuit, you need to understand what will happen in the lawsuit if you don't settle.  Learn more about what to expect when proceeding with an employment lawsuit.
  • What is a realistic and fair settlement? When pursuing the resolution of an employment dispute, bear in mind that typically any resolution other than judgment achieved at trial will likely be a compromise. Identifying the full potential value of the case and full scope of potential liability typically provides only a basis to start negotiations. Neither side is likely to agree to a settlement which is equivalent to a best day at trial for the opposition. To be successful in negotiation or mediation, there needs to be an expectation of give-and-take between both sides. Of course, this also does not mean that either side should necessarily "surrender" on valuable negotiating points where no advantage is achieved.
  • What can be expected during negotiation? With the understanding of their best case and worst case scenarios and that there will be a "give-and-take," both sides of an employment dispute then usually enter into negotiation or mediation with expectations of what they desire to ultimately receive (or pay). Be wary of expressing any "bottom line" dollar amount early in negotiations, however. Once any dollar amount is expressed, no matter how vaguely, it usually becomes the new benchmark for further negotiations in the minds of the opposition.
  • Is it necessary to hire a mediator? While cases involving significant dollar amounts, complex issues or high levels of animosity benefit from utilization of a mediator, not all employment disputes require the use of one. For example, some disputes can be resolved by communications between the opposing attorneys without involving a third party neutral.

Mediation of an Employment Dispute

Mediation involves all parties to the dispute, their respective attorneys and a neutral mediator. The mediator facilitates possible resolution, without taking sides and with one goal in mind bringing the opposing sides closer to achieving a settlement. After clear descriptions of both sides of the case are presented, the opposing sides are often moved into separate rooms. The mediator then serves as the intermediary (go-between) between the parties during the negotiations. If an agreement, on the tentative material terms of the agreement is achieved, it is often memorialized in writing with the understanding that both parties will agree to sign a formal written settlement agreement including those terms at a future date.

Bear in mind that mediation is different from arbitration. Mediation is typically not binding on the participating parties where a settlement is not achieved, and does not involve the introduction of evidence – by testimony or documents. The mediation proceeding and statements made during it are typically inadmissible at any later trial. In contrast, an arbitration can be a binding resolution of an employment law claim. In arbitration, the arbitrator typically hears and weighs argument and evidence for all sides and renders a final decision on the merits of the case. In essence, an arbitrator serves as a private judge in lieu of a matter being resolved in court.

Even if an agreement cannot be achieved, coming to mediation with an open mind can have significant benefits — attending mediation can help you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case and of the opposition's case, and may promote future settlement discussions.

Contact Freeland Law APC for a free 30-minute consultation with Michael Freeland, experienced employment dispute lawyer serving La Mesa, California.

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