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Employee disputes can be upsetting and distracting to the mission and focus of any business. A single major employment dispute can result in the erosion of morale as well as involve a significant financial loss due to legal fees and a legal settlement against the company. The task of handling the dispute can distract and unnerve an otherwise strong and efficient work team. Mediation provides a strategy for dealing with the dispute privately and effectively, while reducing the financial and emotional costs to the individual and the business.

Employee Termination

When a terminated or current employee makes a claim against their employer, it is generally in the interest of both parties to attempt to resolve the matter early. Mediation, greatly increases the chance of an amicable resolution by helping the parties open communications to focus on a resolution that meets the real interests of both sides. Any settlement and its terms are entirely subject to the parties' agreement and the entire process is generally confidential. The mediated agreement can either remain an informal, amicable, hand-shake resolution, or the agreement arrived at by the parties can be drafted into a written agreement between those involved in the dispute.

Employee Complaints

Several recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court have cautioned employers against ignoring employee complaints. Companies wishing to improve employment dispute resolution programs are required to implement policies requiring fair and reasonable investigation of complaints, and a dispute resolution mechanism which can involve Mediation. For example, in two decisions issued by the United States Supreme Court last year, an employer can defend himself from sexual harassment and other discrimination complaints by demonstrating they have exercised reasonable care to prevent these forms of conduct and by showing that an employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the companies' programs. The use of Mediation is one way that a company's efforts to address these complaints will be considered reasonable.

Why is Mediation such a useful tool in resolving employment disputes? What people perceive to be the truth is directly related to their emotional perception and interpretation of events. For example, in a Mediation involving a termination of numerous employees during downsizing, some employees may see their employment experience as a positive experience and be grateful for the skills they gained. This type of employee will have a positive attitude and seek another job with the full support of his former employer. Another employee may see himself at a disadvantage and resent the actions of his employer. His solution is to sue his employer and to see his employer as the source of all his problems. Often, they cannot achieve settlements until the employee has had the opportunity to voice their grievances and to recognize his own responsibility and therein question their original negative perceptions. Often, employees get so invested in their version of the facts they cannot get past the anger toward their employer.
On the employer's side, many times a termination arises out of a situation that is not illegal per se, but poorly handled. Often, this experience forms the basis of the employees grievance.

Privacy

The employee may also need the ability to make a complaint without everyone in the company knowing about it. He or she may need to know that they will be listened to, that their views will be considered and that they will not be retaliated against. The last thing an employee wants to do when complaining about harassment or discrimination is to alienate themselves from his/her co-workers or supervisors.

Discrimination/Harassment

On the other hand, employers often feel that discrimination and/or harassment complaints are unjustified and that they are "wrongly accused." They often come into Mediation with the attitude that they are being taken advantage of. As a result, they are unwilling to enter into any type of settlement. The Mediation process allows them to vent these issues and to gradually see the dispute in a more impartial way, and to make good business decisions on how to resolve it. Mediation allows the necessary expression of the emotional aspects of the conflict and provides a framework for creative problem solving. Dr. Glass, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Mediator provides years of experience enabling her to address these emotional obstacles.

Besides specializing in Divorce Mediation, Dr. Lydia Glass also runs her own private practice in Pasadena, California as a Clinical Psychologist and as a Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor. Dr. Glass has also been providing psychotherapy for over 25 years... (more)


 

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