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People sometimes hear the terms “mediation” or “arbitration” in their day to day lives but are not always clear on the distinctions between the two. Some think they are one and the same. They are NOT. Here is how they differ in major respects:
Arbitration is a process that has similar elements of a lawsuit. The primary goal of arbitration is for the plaintiff/claimant to prosecute his or her case and for the defendant to defend against the allegations being made by the plaintiff/claimant. The case is not filed nor heard in a traditional courtroom and perhaps most importantly, the case is not heard by a jury. There is no right to a jury trial in arbitration. The case is usually heard and decided by an Arbitrator. An arbitrator is usually a retired judge or attorney. In employment law cases, the employer has to pay the fee for the arbitrator. Lastly, the decision in arbitration is final and binding, with very few exceptions for review.
Mediation is intended to be a process to help litigants resolve their legal dispute. Whereas the arbitration process is more adversarial and is similar to a lawsuit, mediation is typically a one-day event where both parties generally come in with the intention to make peace or “buy their peace.” Mediation is usually a voluntary process. If the plaintiff and defendant in a civil case agree to attend mediation, they will propose a list of mediators to one another. The mediator can be a retired judge or attorney with experience in the area of law that is at issue. Once the parties agree and select a mediator, the mediation gets scheduled and parties with settlement authority are in attendance either in person or remotely. Each side usually meets privately with mediator throughout the day. The mediator helps convey each side’s position in a constructive way and helps facilitate the negotiations. In mediation, there is no live testimony, and the mediator does not make rulings and cannot force the parties to settle. The decision and outcome is really in the control of both parties.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated and bring a claim against your former employer, chances are your case will go through one of these processes at some point. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, feel free to contact The Law Office of Omid Nosrati at 310-553-5630 for a free case evaluation.