Whether you’re an employed individual or someone who employs others at their business, you’re probably more than familiar with the fact that business disputes happen. No matter how large or small your business, conflicts could come up and that means a tedious dispute resolution that can be a huge hassle for everyone involved. Both sides have a vested interest in finding a solution quickly and effectively to get back to normal day-to-day operations, and fortunately there are options for resolving disputes that don’t involve dragging your case to court and presenting it to a judge.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is one of these options that many people choose to pursue in order to find a dispute resolution without resorting to a lawsuit. To put it simply, arbitration is a process in which both parties meet before a neutral third party, the arbitrator, to present their case. The arbitrator then comes to a decision that they believe is fair and mutually beneficial for both sides.
This may sound a lot like informal negotiation but there are a few key differences: whereas a negotiator can be just about anyone, an arbitrator is usually a currently-serving or retired employment law judge with experience handling these types of cases. This is important because of another key difference between arbitration and negotiation: both parties must abide by the arbitrator’s decision, which is considered final and in most cases cannot be appealed.
Why Choose Arbitration?
Why choose arbitration rather than take your case to court or try a more informal option? Well, there are some advantages to taking this route that no other route can offer.
- Not a court trial: First, arbitration isn’t a trial, and that means you’re not bound by the procedures and restrictions of a court of law. This means arbitration generally takes less time, costs less, and involves far less tedious paperwork in terms of filing documents and preparing your arguments and statements to present them.
- Simpler proceedings: Because of the informality of this process, it’s possible to complete it without needing an attorney. If you’re organized and detailed in your preparation, you could obtain a successful outcome purely by your own careful and well-thought-out arguments. However, if you still wish to have an attorney, you can still do so.
- Less time required: Arbitration matters will almost always resolve far faster than a full trial. Arbitration can be done in as little as a few days or weeks, whereas court trials can take up to a year or longer to finish.
When to Avoid Arbitration
Arbitration isn’t always the best solution. Depending on your case, sometimes you may want to bring your matter to a full trial, or you may wish to simply have a third party guide your negotiation process to keep things even more informal. Here are a few times you might want to forego this process.
- Jury sympathy: As an employee, it could sometimes be wise to have your case heard before a jury of your peers. Many people on most juries are also employees who have regular jobs with bosses and employers, and as a result they often feel more sympathy towards employees and their plight in an employment law dispute.
- Less preparation: If you believe that the other side might be hiding something that’s advantageous to you, you could use the discovery process to uncover it if you went to a full trial. The arbitration process has no discovery period, so your ability to access this evidence is severely limited. In most situations, this hurts the employee who doesn’t have access to business records like timesheets, payroll records, and financial histories.
- Lack of appeal options: While the arbitration process is more informal and this could work to your advantage, it’s not always the best option if you think there’s an unacceptable amount of risk that your decision goes a way you don’t want it to. Arbitration decisions often cannot be appealed, and for many people that’s too great a risk to try and cope with.