Employers can face challenges in a variety of legal venues from both their employees as well as the government agencies that enforce employment laws. Each venue has its own procedures and requirements. Employers should ensure that they have knowledgeable counsel with experience in these venues in case they are faced with an employee claim or a government action.
The legal claims that most businesses are familiar with are lawsuits brought in either federal or state court. However, many employers may not be aware that the choice of which court the case appears in can have a significant impact on how the matter proceeds. There are even strategies an employer might be able to utilize so that it can have some control over where a claim or dispute is brought. Moreover, being familiar with the court where a case is brought can assist a lawyer in developing the best strategy to represent a business in a lawsuit.
Many government agencies are responsible for the enforcement of the wide variety of employment laws. Whether based on a complaint or a random audit, these agencies have the authority to both investigate compliance with and enforce the employment laws for which they are responsible. Many of these agencies also have internal trial procedures to hear claims brought before them, which may or may not be preferable to a court proceeding. Companies have rights during these agency actions. When a company finds itself subject to an agency action, it is important for it to know these rights and not waive them, as well as to understand the agency’s internal procedures.
Arbitration and Mediation
Arbitration and mediation are forms of alternative dispute resolution which are options companies can use to avoid protracted litigations. In general, arbitration is similar to a trial and the determination is binding on the parties. On the other hand, mediation is a tool used to reach a settlement in a dispute and is not usually binding on the parties. When a case is filed in court or before an agency, a company may have the option to pursue mediation or arbitration either at the start or as an alternative as the matter progresses. There are important pros and cons, as well as timing considerations, that a company should consider when faced with the decision to have a dispute arbitrated or mediated.