We asked: What IS a National Universal Agreement to Mediate? And why might it be a good thing to know about? In this Part I we describe the mediation program. In Part II, we will ask whether it is a "win-win" program, as the EEOC says – given the less than favorable reviews of some who practice before the EEOC who claim that the EEOC attempts to "bully" employers. read
Despite the glut of newly-minted lawyers, millions of Americans end up representing themselves in court because they can’t afford to pay $150 to $300 an hour for an attorney. Many turn to court-based legal self-help centers intended to help pro-se litigants navigate the judicial system. Nearly 500 centers now operate since the first was launched in the 1990s, according to a new report out from the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, which concluded they “are a vibrant and effective resource” for court users nationwide. read
Dozens of parents have delivered a petition with more than 11,000 signatures to the BC legislature. Mother Jordan Waters says the group wants the government to join the teachers’ union in mediation. “I am disillusioned with our government and their unwillingness to make public education a priority. I think it’s really short-sighted and they don’t see how investing in children is investing in our economic prosperity in the long run.” read
The use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) by U.S. companies—now encompassing all industries and every type of commercial dispute—has evolved in scope and application over the past 30 years. Notably, as corporate counsel have sought to gain greater control over associated costs, scheduling, duration, relationships, confidentiality and settlement outcomes, mediation has become an integral early step in the corporate dispute resolution process, intended to resolve cases in advance of litigation without significant legal risk, expense or publicity. read
A White House executive order restricting mandatory arbitration clauses for employees of large federal government contractors is ripe for a challenge, according to some attorneys. Labor and employment lawyers said they expect the order's direct impact will be limited, but its effect on the public discourse regarding arbitration of employment disputes could be significant. President Barack Obama's order may conflict with the Federal Arbitration Act, some attorneys said, and a legal challenge is possible. Plaintiffs attorneys may cite the order as ammunition to attempt to discredit arbitration clauses by other employers. The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, signed July 31, says companies with federal contracts of $1 million or more may not require employees to enter into pre-dispute arbitration agreements for disputes arising out of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or from torts related to sexual assault or harassment. read
Little noticed in coverage of President Obama's signing of the Fair Play and Safe Workplaces executive order July 31 was a provision that has been called "one of the most important positive steps for civil rights in the last 20 years." The statement comes from Paul Bland of the public interest group Public Justice, quoted by Emily Bazelon of Slate. He's right; what he's referring to is a provision of the order that bars employers from forcing workers to bring workplace discrimination, sexual assault or sexual harassment cases only through arbitration. As Bazelon reports, the order applies to firms with federal contracts valued at more than $1 million. But that's plenty. read
The Metropolitan Opera has proposed bringing in a mediator to facilitate talks with its unions, a move that could delay a lockout that management had threatened for Friday. Opera officials broached the idea in a negotiation session Wednesday with the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents singers, dancers and stage managers. Union head Alan Gordon said his group would agree to mediation if the unions representing the orchestra and stagehands were on board. read
Here’s some good news for employers that want to use arbitration as a way to resolve employment disputes instead of relying on federal or state courts: Imposing a fair arbitration policy on applicants as a condition of employment is fine. Once the applicant “takes” the take-it-or-leave-it arbitration agreement by accepting the job after having a chance to review it, she’s stuck with it. read
The director of the Charleston County Aviation Authority said mediation is a possibility in the gender discrimination complaint filed by the former director of the county's three airports. "We can certainly mediate in good faith," said Airports Director Paul Campbell. "We want something that allows us to run the airport in a cost-effective manner." The resolution to the nearly year-old dispute with ex-airports Director Sue Stevens does not have to involve money entirely, Aviation Authority Chairman Andy Savage added. He did not elaborate. read
Norwegian oil workers and employers will start mediation talks tomorrow to bridge differences and avoid a strike that threatens to halt about 115,000 barrels of oil a day. The mediation deadline is set for midnight tomorrow and involves two unions that broke off wage talks last month over pensions, according to the parties involved. Talks frequently run beyond the deadline. “We naturally hope for a solution,” Sverre Simen Hov, a spokesman for the Norwegian Organization of Managers and Executives, said by phone on June 13. It’s “very difficult” to predict the outcome, he said. read
What Did Labor Day Teach Us About ADR? (9/12/14) Susan Yates For a while in the evolution of the ADR field, when two neutrals met they would sometimes ask what the other’s “profession of origin” was. What they meant was, “what did you do before you were a mediator?” There were some unspoken questions packed in there, too. They wanted to know, are you a full-time neutral or are you really from some other profession and trying to break into this one?
Preventing Conflict in the Workplace by Taking Time for Yourself (9/05/14) Vivian Scott I just got back from a holiday with my significant other and as I get ready to take a long weekend with family, I’m thinking about how fortunate I am this year to be taking so much time off. I realize not everyone has the same opportunity, so I thought I’d share some ways in which one can take a vacation at work without actually taking time off.
Employment Mediation Requires a Unique Touch (9/05/14) Jeffrey Grubman Although the fact patterns of employment cases vary considerably, there is always a common theme. The plaintiffs believe they have been mistreated by their employers, and the employers almost always deny the factual allegations.
Do Unethical Leaders Foster Conflict Among Followers? (9/05/14) Nick Redding Recent events, such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, questionable accounting practices at Enron, and illegal hiring practices among Silicon Valley’s most prominent companies, are just a few among many examples of unethical organization leadership practices today.While the impact of unethical leadership practices on local communities is often times immeasurable, what is less well understood is the impact of this type of leadership inside the organization. Specifically, how does unethical leadership impact those individuals working under it?
The Good and Bad of Conflict (8/22/14) Ken Johnson As conflict professionals, we should strive to understand the subject of conflict in all its various forms. However, the large majority of the industry only desires to resolve conflict. Indeed, conflict can be beneficial (anabolic) or destructive (catabolic). Knowing the difference can give businesses and other organizations a catalystic edge to take them to the next level.
Developmental Negotiation: Preliminary Stage (8/01/14) Alex Polsky Developmental negotiation involves a plan and execution of the development of all five stages to maximize the likelihood of a beneficial outcome. The five stages are preliminary, preparation, information, negotiation and closing.
Dynamos, Cruisers, and Losers (8/01/14) Geoff Sharp Before I left my law firm in the late 1990's David Maister, a Boston management guru of whom many of you will know, was the darling of every large service firm, especially in the law and accountancy fields.
He has long since retired but at his height he was good, very good – despite being a former Harvard Business School professor, he had a practical wisdom that could cut through the management gobbledygook I was struggling with at my firm’s monthly management meetings at the time.
ABA / Straus Institute Survey (7/18/14) Tom Stipanowich One of the three recent surveys undertaken by the Straus Institute in 2013 as part of the Theory-to-Practice Research Project was a survey of corporate counsel co-sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Section on Public Utilities, Communication and Transportation (PUCAT) ADR Committee.
Case Study: The Mediating Manager (7/18/14) Katherine Graham Sian is the Communications Manager for a UK charity and has recently appointed James, a designer whose job required frequent contact with production officer Helga, who had worked with Sian for over 3 years. Sian had a sinking feeling that things were not going too well between James and Helga, but Sian was busy and, optimistically, had put the tensions down to early teething troubles and hoped she could leave them to sort out their differences ‘as adults’.
Conflict Systems at Work in Startups (6/20/14) Mark Baril Behind most disputes is a system that perpetuates the problem. Uncovering the system will reveal why these negative conflict outcomes keep coming back, and, hopefully, how to fix them for good.
Settlement Conferences and the Price of Contempt (6/06/14) Mary Novak In a settlement conference, what is the value of having someone present with full authority to settle? If one party lacks the authority, it can result in aggravation, wasted court fees, and lost time for trial preparation. American Family Insurance (AFI) recently learned this to their cost in a dog-bite case in Washoe County, Nevada. Because Judge Janet Berry did not believe the insurers had complied in good faith with her rules on authority to settle, she found the company in contempt and sanctioned them $50,000.
Quick Tip: Hostage Negotiator's Tone of Voice (6/03/14) Jeff Thompson Crisis and hostage negotiator's are involved in situations that are tense, stressful, and anxiety-filled. In order to try to reduce the overwhelming emotions being experienced by the person they are trying to help, the negotiator's tone of voice is an important tool that can help move the conversation toward a peaceful resolution.
Employment Disputes (5/23/14) Joe Markowitz Given the huge numbers of settlements, in contrast to adjudications, we should perhaps think of the DFEH not so much as a law enforcement agency, charged with putting teeth into statutory prohibitions against discrimination, but rather as a conflict resolution service offered by the government to assist parties in dealing with all manner of employment disputes.
Can Mediation Work When Harassment is Alleged? (5/16/14) Katherine Graham Lucy and Andrew are senior professionals in a small department within a major IT company. Lucy reports to Andrew, but the relationship is an unhappy one. Andrew comes to Karl, the Head of HR, because he’s had enough of Lucy’s behaviour which he describes as difficult, negative, undermining and disloyal. He sees putting her through the Disciplinary process as his only option.
I’m Ready to Resolve! (and you’re not) (5/16/14) Vivian Scott In my line of work we talk about the importance of process. People like to know that we’re following a process; we know that everyone needs time to process, and some say it’s all about the process. Individual journeys are, well, individual and just because you’ve decided you’re ready to apologize or tell someone a thing or two doesn’t mean that they’re at a place in their own journey in which they’re willing to sit on a park bench with you and hear you out.
Workplace Violence - Part 2 (5/09/14) Ken Johnson From 9/11/2001 to 9/11/2013, approximately the same number of Americans died in the workplace due to violence as did American soldiers overseas fighting terrorists. Bullying, stress, domestic disputes, and other considerations account for this. Some researchers have suggested a new mental condition, similar to PSTD, called PTED, which workers may exhibit. Out of control catabolic (harmful) conflict poses a serious problem for both businesses and workers. This two-part series looks into this issue and suggests how ADR practitioners can work to better help businesses make the workplace safer and more productive.
Leadership is Defined as a Relationship, Not a Person (5/09/14) Maria Simpson I have always maintained that, if people weren’t so afraid of the process of disagreeing, they would have much better outcomes and more creative solutions to problems. Now, Mark Gerzon in Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities, provides sound arguments for why leaders need conflict and how to use it to their advantage to build relationships and organizations. This book is well worth your time.
Workplace Violence (5/02/14) Ken Johnson From 9/11/2001 to 9/11/2013, approximately the same amount of Americans died in the workplace due to violence as did American soldiers overseas fighting terrorists. Bullying, stress, domestic disputes, and other considerations account for this. Some researchers have suggested a new mental condition, similar to PSTD, called PTED which workers may exhibit. Out of control catabolic (harmful) conflict poses a serious problem for both businesses and workers. This two-part series looks into this issue and suggests how ADR practitioners can work with other various professionals to better help businesses make the workplace safer and more productive.
Leadership is Defined as a Relationship, Not a Person (4/18/14) Maria Simpson ediation has become so closely associated with the legal system recently that its value in all areas of discussion and leadership has been overwhelmed. Gerzon points out the value of the approach in public areas of concern, education, business and international relations. Now, if we could only get people to learn how to use it.
The Importance of Mediation in Family Business Management (4/04/14) Joseph Berljawsky Managing a business can be difficult enough—but when your in-laws are the board of directors and your sister is the CEO, management of a family business can also become a contentious issue. Problems related to leadership and ownership of family businesses arise in a variety of situations. Sometimes there is a power struggle, other times people feel they have been treated unfairly or do not get enough of a say in the company.
At Work, Our Mental Models of Conflict Matter (3/21/14) Nick Redding The way we think about conflict matters. These “mental models” of conflict influence the strategies we employ when we are engaged in conflict. Our models are influenced by our personality, life experiences, and general orientation to the world around us. In turn, they impact how others will react to us, influencing the likelihood of reaching more or less constructive outcomes.
A Practical Guide to Comprehensive Conflict Management Systems (3/07/14) Carole Houk, Deborah Katz Many organizations have embraced alternative dispute resolution. Yet, they continue to search for more comprehensive approaches that help them not only to resolve conflicts that have escalated into disputes but also to manage risk, manage relationships and manage their bottom line. Is the answer to this search integrated conflict management systems (ICMS)?
Conflict from Workplace Behaviors (2/14/14) Maria Simpson Years ago a wonderful little book appeared called Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It was mostly about basic consideration for others such as taking turns, sharing, and not wrecking other people’s possessions.
Mediate is Top Ranked Mediation Website (2/04/14) Mediate.com Mediate.com is ranked the top mediation and dispute resolution website by Alexa in its February 1, 2014 global website rankings. In business since 1996, Mediate.com has over 15,000 searchable mediation articles, blog posts, news items and videos. Mediate.com also hosts the most used mediator directory and offers mobile friendly website development, professional promotional services and cloud-based case management systems.
Do You Really Want This Job? (1/17/14) Maria Simpson More people need to know that mediation exists and how to access it, because most of these documents include a mandatory arbitration agreement that precludes your right to your “day in court” if a dispute arises. In general, these agreements are not to your advantage.
Be Sure To Check the Facts (1/03/14) Tim Kingsbury A female middle manager complained she had been bullied by her male senior manager, who she had described as aggressive and demanding. One of the allegations related to an occasion when she had gone into his office for a discussion, which had become heated on both sides and, according to her, he had started to shout and swear at her and continued to do so as he followed her out of the room.
The Hidden Costs of Workplace Conflict (1/02/14) Steve McGuire This article basically sets forth the underlying costs to an organization in terms of loss productivity, processes and actual dollar cost in lost investment, replacing workers, and the consequences of unattended conflict. This helps employers decide when a conflict is serious enough that they should be proactive. 2 Comments
Tips for Working with Multiple Bosses (12/27/13) Vivian Scott When companies consolidate departments or lay-off employees, the action often results in administrative support staff working with multiple bosses. Though the strategic goal is to save money, the act can backfire if the new normal doesn’t quickly fall into place.
What is Your Organization’s Conflict Style? (12/27/13) Lauren Catenacci Prior research had explored conflict styles at the individual and group level, but had yet to explore whether organizations have distinct conflict styles. Recently, researchers using data from a large bank in the mid-Atlantic United States found evidence to suggest that three distinct conflict styles operate within organizational cultures: collaborative, dominating, and avoidant.
Task and Relationship Conflicts in Teams in WorkplaceMediation (12/07/13) Nick Redding Teams are an essential component of organizational life. In order for a team to get anything done, it’s members must find a way to work together effectively. Conflict practitioners commonly recognize three forms of conflict in teams: 1) task conflicts are disagreements over what the team is supposed to accomplish, 2) relationship conflicts occur when disagreements between members become personal, and 3) process conflicts
Was Your Board Meeting a Disaster? (12/06/13) Joanna Wares Everyone who has ever served on a board can relate to this question. Unproductive, one person dominated, a key person was not at the meeting, we never got to the most important part of the agenda, sound familiar? Navigating through important content, diverse personalities and time restraints can prove to be difficult in any circumstance but when consensus, disagreements over interpretation of the goals of the organization and personalities collide it can become a disaster.
Avoiding Conflict in the Workplace (11/15/13) Katherine Graham No employee wants to become embroiled in a workplace dispute. If conflict at work isn’t resolved, it can cause stress, frustration, loss of sleep, a bad temperament, illness or other issues for individual employees.
Information Please (11/08/13) Phyllis Pollack There is a study by Art Hinshaw and Jess K. Alberts about ethics in negotiations using practicing attorneys from metropolitan Phoenix and metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri who were asked how they would react in hypothetical situations during mediation. The results indicated that only about 62% of the attorneys would act ethically in a hypothetical negotiation while 19% indicated they would not act ethically, and the remaining 19% were not sure how they would react in the hypothetical situation.