Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Arbitration agreements and employment disputes, P.2

In our last post, we mentioned an ongoing case in which Philadelphia’s St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is seeking to compel arbitration in an employment discrimination suit brought by a former employee. As we mentioned, arbitration of labor and disputes does have certain advantages for parties to the dispute, such as saving money and keeping a dispute shielded from the public eye. Such arbitration does, however, have potential drawbacks.

Among the criticisms leveled at compulsory arbitration is that the arbitrator is often selected by the employer, and so the arbitration is therefore presumed to be biased on favor of the employer. This is not necessarily always the case, but it does highlight a potential problem. Arbitration itself, though, is not a process that should legally be skewed in favor of one party or another. 

The process of arbitration is on in which some of the same elements of litigation are present. There is a discovery process, there is a hearing in which evidence is considered and weighed, and there is a decision rendered at the end of the hearing in which an appropriate award disposes of the claims brought in the case. There is also a process by which awards can be appealed, depending on the agreement between the parties.  

To the extent that parties to a contract are able to bargain with one another, it is ideal if they both have a say in who hears the arbitration case. Arbitration can be beneficial to disputants, but only if it is conducted by neutral arbitrators who have experience with the process

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