Solving Employment Issues Through Arbitration
Many employment cases are resolved through a process called arbitration instead of through the court system, which is a process known as litigation. Arbitration is essentially a private court system in which an arbitrator acts as the judge.
Representing Employees In Arbitration
There are two different types of employment arbitrations – union arbitrations done pursuant to the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement, and private arbitrations done pursuant to an arbitration agreement between the employer and employee. Our firm does represent employees in private arbitrations, however we do not represent union employees in union arbitrations.
Often nonunion employers require their employees to enter into an arbitration agreement so that employment disputes are arbitrated, not filed in court. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such agreements are binding and enforceable for resolving employment disputes.
Arbitration is similar to litigation in that both sides present the facts to a neutral fact finder. In the courtroom the litigation process tends to take longer, but the employee has some procedural safeguards that the arbitration process does not permit.
How Is Arbitration Decided?
Arbitration is decided by a hearing at which both parties have the right to be present and present any witness or documentary evidence they would like to be considered by the arbitrator. Formal evidentiary rules do not apply. At the conclusion of the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator takes the matter under consideration and often allows for post-hearing briefing from both sides. Usually within 30 days after the end of the hearing, once briefs are submitted, the arbitrator issues an “award”, which is a final, binding decision setting forth who won and who lost, and how much money if any is owed. The arbitrator’s award resolves all of the issues between the employer and employee.
Arbitration awards, if not paid promptly, can be turned into “judgments”, which is a process that is done in court. Most of the time arbitration awards are upheld by the courts, although in a small percentage of cases the awards are “vacated” (set aside) by the courts. There are limited rights of appeal in arbitration.
The decision as to whether to arbitrate or litigate a claim is a complex one. Whether or not a pre-dispute arbitration agreement between an employee and an employer is binding, and the extent to which all or a portion of that agreement may be set aside, presents complex legal problems. If you do have an arbitration agreement with your employer and have a serious problem with your employer (or former employer), make sure that you notify your lawyer promptly of the existence of the arbitration agreement.
Employment Law And Arbitration Experience. Trusted Representation.
Our firm has obtained several large arbitration awards. If you are involved in a nonunion arbitration with your current or past employer, we may be able to assist you too. Call our Honolulu, Hawaii, office at 808-536-3255 or use the contact form to schedule a consultation with attorney David Simons.