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Weigh the pros, cons of mediating disputes

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Q. Do you recommend mediation for resolving employment disputes? —N.B., Minnesota

A. Mediation can be enormously helpful in resolving cases as long as both parties are genuinely interested in resolving the case. Before agreeing to mediation, a company should ask itself, “What do we hope to accomplish?” If the company wants to resolve the case, mediation is a good idea. If the company simply wants to find out what the plaintiff is up to, then you are probably wasting your time by going through the motions of mediation.

Because mediation is less contentious than court, it works particularly well in “failure to promote” cases or cases in which the employee plans to remain with the company. Some companies, particularly larger ones, believe mediation resolves cases without opening the floodgates to more claims.

To realize the financial benefits of mediation, determine whether you want to mediate before or after discovery. While you can save a lot of time and money if you opt for mediation early in the case, you may not know enough about the facts before discovery begins.

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