Arbitration and Mediation
Arbitration and mediation services, among other forms of alternative dispute resolution, provide for the resolution of legal disputes outside of the court system. Courts frequently order parties involved in litigation to attempt to resolve their dispute in private mediation or arbitration or Court-sponsored alternative dispute resolution processes, including settlement conferences and binding judicial arbitration. Arbitration is a process by which the parties submit their dispute to one or more neutral arbitrators for a formal decision as to which party prevails in the legal dispute.
Arbitration can be binding or non-binding. Usually, the decision reached by an arbitrator in a binding arbitration proceeding cannot be appealed to the Courts and is a final legal order which awards monetary damages or other relief to the prevailing party (i.e. the arbitration award). Non-binding arbitration does not result in a final, legally enforceable decision or order. Mediation differs from arbitration in that the neutral third-party mediator does not make a decision about which party prevails in the legal dispute. Rather, a mediator works with both parties to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their legal positions and to negotiate a settlement of the case.
Contracts may require the parties to arbitrate their disputes and to give up their right to a civil trial by jury. Some laws encourage or require parties to arbitrate or mediate disputes prior to going to court. For example, the Davis Stirling Act encourages homeowners to attempt alternative dispute resolution with their Homeowners Associations prior to filing suit by preventing homeowners who fail to attempt alternative dispute resolution from recovering attorneys fees from the Association.
A valid arbitration provision in an employment contract can prevent an employee from filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination, and other violations of the law, in court. Arbitration provisions appear not only in the employment context, but also in commercial contracts and leases, consumer purchase agreements, and collective bargaining agreements between management and unions/labor.
An arbitration clause establishes an agreement between the parties to a contract that the parties will arbitrate any legal disputes about the contract by utilizing the services of Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS), the American Arbitration Association (AAA), the National Arbitration Forum (NAF), or another private provider of alternative dispute resolution services. Each arbitration provider follows pre-established rules relating to employment, commercial, and other disputes, and offers the parties professional case management.
Attorneys at Vanegas Law Group, APC assist employees in determining whether or not arbitration clauses are valid. Courts have struck down some arbitration clauses signed by employees because the arbitration clause is unconscionable and favors the employer over the employee. Our law offices represent employees in arbitration proceedings, from the first filing of a complaint with the arbitration provider to the process of discovery and depositions to the final hearing before an arbitrator, wherein the parties offer evidence and testimony to support their case.
Our firm has offered reputable legal services in Contra Costa County since 1979. Because we represent both employees and employers, the Vanegas Law Group can provide balanced assistance in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation to advise you about your legal matter.