The past decades have brought radical changes in the employer-employee relationship. Cultural shifts, new social movements, and changing civil rights laws have altered the landscape of employment dispute resolution, generating the need for new approaches and strategies.
This blog post will lay out recent employment dispute trends and offer insights into the latest conflict resolution strategies, underscoring the combined power of alternative dispute resolution methods and modern technologies in bringing mutually beneficial outcomes. Read on to learn more.
Unlike a few decades ago, when employment disputes involved minimum wage claims and union demands, a new era brought different challenges. The most prevailing workplace claims today include discrimination charges. The workers typically raise issues of sex, religion, age and disability discrimination, demanding equal opportunities in the work environment. On the other hand, the decade behind us has seen increased popularity of alternative dispute resolution methods in employment cases.
According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) statistics, there were 76,418 employment discrimination charges in 2018. That is 25% less compared to 2011 (99,947 claims). Despite the percentage of overall discrimination filings decreasing during the past decade, individual discrimination categories filings have increased within the 2014-2018 period.
The most frequent claims include sex-related charges, LGBT charges, disability, and retaliation charges. The percentage of these claims increased by approximately 2-3%. For example, sex-related charges rose from 30.4% in 2017 to 23.3% one year later. Similarly, LGBT-related claims grew from 36.2% in 2014 to 39% in 2018. Disability claims percentage also rose – from 31,9% in 2017 to 32,2% the following year. However, retaliation claims are the most frequent – comprising 51.6% of all discrimination charges in 2018 (compared to 48.8% of all filings in 2017).
Although contradictory at first sight, the presented data can be explained by increased awareness about discrimination issues in the workplace, on the one hand, and employees’ renewed efforts in pursuing their employment rights, on the other.
Employment claims nationwide rose by more than 400% over the past two decades, according to the United States Department of Labor (DOL). Such an increase poses an incredible burden on the court system. The federal and state court dockets are overloaded, and the plaintiffs bringing employment-related charges must wait several years to get the court hearing date. Instead of wasting time and money in litigation, employees with workplace grievances have turned to alternative dispute resolution methods. Out-of-court mechanisms, such as mediation and arbitration, have become increasingly popular in the years behind us. Given the circumstances, their popularity growth has just begun.
New trends in employment disputes have generated the need for new approaches to resolving workplace conflicts. Given that alternative dispute resolution methods (especially mediation) have taken the lead role in bringing positive outcomes to disputed parties, the new strategies involve modern technologies, early mediation approach, and a focus on mindfulness and emotional intelligence.
Mediation and arbitration are steps ahead of conventional dispute resolution mechanisms. But combined with advanced technology, these methods offer undisputable advantages over traditional litigation. As the most flexible way of dealing with employment disputes, mediation works perfectly in the modern technology context. The technological innovations in the dispute resolution process are known as TADR (technology-assisted dispute resolution). TADR includes conventional computers and artificial intelligence resulting in a unique user experience. For example, online mediation platforms enable document uploading, scheduling, and video conference mediation sessions. Similarly, cloud-based services make sharing materials easier, while artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology offer faster document creation and additional personal information security. Finally, machine learning technology and online databases enable more efficient case-law analysis, helping all participants get equal access to legal resources.
The workplace is a complex environment where the most trivial disagreements can quickly escalate into large-scale conflicts. One of the newest trends in employment dispute resolution is not allowing for such escalation. Instead, the parties (employers and employees) should engage in mediation at the moment when the slightest friction occurs. It may seem like an overreaction, but dealing with disagreements in the initial phases saves everyone’s time, energy, and money. Litigating employment disputes wreaks havoc in the workplace environment, making the return to the same job impossible. On the other hand, engaging in mediation at the right moment helps parties preserve their working relationship, benefiting both sides.
Mediation is an out-of-court tool helping disputed parties find common ground through negotiations facilitated by a neutral third person called the mediator. As a legal dispute resolution process, mediation revolves around legal issues. However, focusing on the emotional aspects of the conflict is a growing trend in the mediation process in Florida. Mediators undergo special training that enables them to be more emotionally intelligent. That involves empathy, active listening, and understanding the parties at a deeper level. Mediators even encourage parties to engage in meditation and breathing practices to increase mindfulness while reducing anxiety. Such an approach helps employment dispute parties better understand each other’s concerns and find a common path toward conflict resolution.
Joseph Farina is a retired Chief Judge from the 11th Judicial Circuit with decades of experience as a mediator, arbitrator, special magistrate, neutral evaluator, and neutral empire.
Resolving employment disputes is more than applying labor laws and negotiating mutually acceptable terms. It requires empathy, compassion, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness. Mr. Farina’s personality encompasses all these traits. With an ability to focus on underlying emotional motivations, Joe will find the way out of the dispute by listening to each side’s grievances and compassionately bridging the gap between the disputed parties.
In addition to an emotionally intelligent approach to dispute resolution, Mr. Farina utilizes the latest technological tools that help him manage the process effortlessly while protecting your privacy and saving everyone’s time and money.
Please reach out today to schedule your appointment at 305-371-5267 or email@example.com.