Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Is your arbitrator truly neutral?

As readers may know, mediation and arbitration can be effective means of resolving a variety of disputes, including disputes concerning divorce, construction projects, contracts and other business issues. Meditation and arbitration, as we noted, are commonly used in employment and labor disputes as well. For example, we wrote last time about a pending meditation between the Major League Soccer Players Union and MLS owners.

Arbitration is a bit different than meditation in that it is an alternative dispute resolution process in which an impartial party hears a legal dispute and makes a decision in favor of one party or the other on the merits of the case. That decision is binding. The idea is to resolve disputes while avoiding the costs and hassle of court. The process is not perfect, though, and some claim that decisions are sometimes made not on the basis of the merits of the case but too often merely on expediency. 

A recent editorial in the Lehigh Valley Express Times argued that arbitration in Pennsylvania too often removes the ability of public employers to effectively discipline their employees for misconduct or poor performance. A fair amount of the dispute concerns a state law which requires public employers to show just cause in disciplining an employee. The law, it is argued, is too often used as a basis for reversing appropriate disciplinary measures.

Arbitrators, of course, are supposed to make decisions fairly and without bias, and some outcomes can lack of sense of justice. This is all the more reason to ensure that you are working with a truly neutral arbitrator in your dispute. Our firm is committed to providing neutral arbitration services as well as other effective alternative means of resolving disputes. Those who work with us can be sure we will provide the best services available.

In a future post, we’ll look a bit more at this issue of selecting a truly neutral arbitrator.

Source: Lehigh Valley Live, “EDITORIAL: In Pennsylvania, arbitration strips disciplinary powers from public employers,” March 1, 2015.

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