Players – Mediator, forlorn Business Owner, and the owner’s Attorney
Business Owner: We do everything we know how to do to keep our employees safe, productive, and happy. We always work with employees who need accommodations. It seems like no matter what we do, we still end up getting sued. I guess this is just the cost of doing business, and there’s nothing to do be done about it.
Mediator: Well, maybe not nothing. Have you considered a mediation agreement with your employees that either offers or requires mediation before bringing a lawsuit?
We plan and life gets in the way. A car accident, childcare, cancer, an older parent who needs help. The employee wants time off, wants to work from home, come earlier, leave later, or work part-time. The employer is sympathetic, but has a business to run, doesn’t want to set a precedent for other employees, not to mention the other employees getting resentful about having to pick up the slack.
Disagreements over accommodation issues are one of the main reasons employees leave and end up suing their employers. These disputes are super-charged with emotions such as blame and anger.
When there is a mandatory or optional Mediation Agreement in place, there is another outlet to resolve workplace problems that might otherwise result in expensive litigation. The employee has an opportunity to tell his or her side of the story directly to the employer and to an impartial listener (the mediator). This can be a powerful experience for both the employer and the employee. Outside of the workplace, solutions may occur that didn’t occur otherwise.