Arbitration is the process by which the parties to a dispute submit their differences to the judgment of an impartial person or persons selected by mutual consent or some other agreed upon procedure. It is generally final and binding and is analogous to a judge hearing a case and entering a decision and order that directs the parties in some fashion concerning their dispute.
Conversely, mediation is the process whereby the parties themselves fashion the resolution of a dispute rather than have a judge, arbitrator or jury unilaterally impose a “just result” upon them. Parties mediate voluntarily and as such it is a consensual and private process. Mediation is informal in the sense that it is not governed by a strict set of rules, like the rules of evidence in a courtroom, but by the parties’ willingness to discuss a broad range of issues that each of them determine is relevant to the dispute between them. The mediation process should be structured to be fair and impartial, and confidentiality is the keystone of that structure.
Our attorneys have arbitrated and mediated numerous commercial cases, including internationally, between individuals and employers, large and small, that involve breach of contract, shareholder disputes, securities claims and construction claims. In the employment arena, we have handled all manner of cases involving protected classes and activities, including age, race, disability, religion, gender, national origin, whistleblowing, wrongful discharge, hostile work environment and sexual harassment, cases involving intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, intentional interference with business relations, trade secrets, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, failure to pay wages and overtime, negligence, non-competition and non-solicitation, absenteeism, discharge and discipline, benefits including holiday and vacation pay, layoffs, management rights, strikes and subcontracting. These cases reflect issues governed by federal and state statutes, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), state statutes like the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), wage and hour laws, state common law, and landlord/tenant disputes under Philadelphia/Pennsylvania law. These cases originate from a variety of industries including retail, banking, securities, construction, manufacturing, graphic arts, transportation, printing, restaurant and healthcare. Amounts in dispute range from tens of thousands of U.S. dollars.
In the labor relations field, we have handled union/management disputes in a variety of industries including transportation, trucking, manufacturing, food processing, bakery, and construction on issues relating to absenteeism, conduct, demotion, discipline, discharge, discrimination, fringe benefits (holidays, leave, vacation), layoffs, management rights, past practice, strikes, subcontracting and other issues.
We have multi-party dispute resolution experience in cases involving multiple plaintiffs (up to 4 or more) and multiple defendants (5 or more) involving systemic discrimination, classification of employees (versus independent contractors), default under loan agreements between borrowers and banking institutions, failure to pay wages and overtime, reduction-in-force and layoffs.