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Using Mediation to Resolve Title VII Disputes: Changing the Meaning of Winning

by: Elizabeth Pollina Donlon

In both workplace and nonworkplace disputes, the parties involved may become so focused on winning in court that they may lose sight of the overall costs of the conflict and the ravaging effects of the litigation on their lives and/or businesses. When the dispute concerns sexual harassment claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a court battle could be especially pricey for the employer. Litigation can go on for years, cost millions of dollars in legal fees, erode productivity, cause irreparable damage to an employer ’ s brand, and ultimately adversely affect the employer ’ s bottom line.

This article describes a recent case that calls into question an employer ’ s perception of “winning” and suggests that mediation is a viable alternative at all stages of the dispute, not just in cases involving allegations of sexual harassment under Title VII, but in most other potentially litigious instances as well.

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The Case for Mediation of Business Disputes

by Michael A. Levy

It is not uncommon for most business people about to undertake or defend a legal challenge to turn to their attorney and ask, “What are my odds of winning this lawsuit?”  When you think about it, that’s a perfectly fair and reasonable question.  In fact, it’s precisely the kind of question one might expect from a successful business person.  After all, most significant business decisions involve an analysis which ends with the question, “What is our likelihood of success?”  So then, why should the inquiry be any different in the context of a litigation that may have a significant impact on the business?  The answer is it shouldn’t.  In this framework, the role of the lawyer is critical to the client’s business judgment.  Before deciding how, whether and when to proceed with litigation, the client needs some idea of its chances of success.

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Mediation: A Reasonable and Cost Effective Alternative to Court

by Michael A. Levy

You May Already be a Mediation Enthusiast.

If you accept as a fundamental principle the notion that all manner of legal conflict must ultimately be resolved, whether by collaborative agreement of the parties or the imposition of a resolution by a third party, then you may already be an aficionado of mediation as a rational and reasonable mechanism for resolving such disputes. It is the nature of the human condition that conflict, whether in business, marriage or a host of other interpersonal relationships, permeates daily life. Differing predilections, beliefs, life experiences, biases and the like lend themselves to conflict.

Mediation of disputes, while only one among several methods of resolving conflict, is rapidly becoming the most costeffective and emotionally satisfying method of dispute resolution. This trend should accelerate given that courts, faced with fiscal restraints, are no longer able to provide adequate services to an overburdened legal system.

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