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Wrongful Termination -- Employee Law

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Do You Have To Use Arbitration To Resolve Wrongful Termination?

You want to sue your former employer for wrongful termination. Are you stuck going to arbitration? Or can you ditch the arbitrator and go to court? The only time you must use arbitration is when you agree to mandatory arbitration.

This article explains arbitration in wrongful termination cases. Employment laws vary by state. That means speaking with a wrongful termination lawyer in your state is essential before taking legal action. An experienced attorney can assess your case. They’ll be able to give you legal advice and represent you in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

What Is Wrongful Termination?

An employer can fire at-will employees for any reason. But some laws make it illegal to fire an employee for certain reasons. Discrimination is an example. Wrongful termination is when your employer fires you for an illegal reason.

You have several choices for resolving a wrongful termination claim. Arbitration is one way. But it’s only required if you agreed to mandatory arbitration. You may also be able to file a complaint with a government agency or file a lawsuit.

What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It’s often used to resolve employment disputes. Arbitration is a process where a neutral third party listens to each side’s argument. Then they issue a decision to resolve the dispute. The neutral third party is called an arbitrator.

Arbitration is often voluntary, but you may have to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement when you start a new job. Your employment contract or employee handbook may also have an arbitration clause. A court could also order you and your employer to go to arbitration.

Anyone can be an arbitrator, but they are often lawyers, retired judges, or experts in the area of the dispute. You and your employer may choose the arbitrator. A court may also choose an arbitrator.

The arbitration process can be complex. It is a good idea to contact an experienced employment attorney for help. An attorney can represent you in the arbitration process.

Is Arbitration Binding?

The arbitrator’s decision is called an award. It’s either binding or non-binding. You must abide by the decision in binding arbitration. Usually, you’ll agree to follow the decision before arbitration starts.

You can challenge a binding decision in court. But a court will only disregard the decision in limited cases. For example:

  • Fraud
  • The arbitrator exceeded their authority
  • The decision violates federal, state, or local laws

You or your employer can ignore the arbitrator’s decision in non-binding arbitration. Your arbitration agreement will specify the type of arbitration.

When Is an Arbitration Clause Not Enforceable?

A court may decide that your arbitration agreement is invalid. Invalid agreements are unenforceable. The following are some reasons:

  • The clause is not fair to you: For example, a clause that orders you to pay all the costs of arbitration may not be enforceable.
  • Your employer forces you to sign the arbitration agreement: For example, your boss threatens to fire you if you don’t sign the agreement.
  • Your arbitration agreement violates public policy: For example, the clause says you can’t file a sexual harassment complaint, which the law forbids.
  • You didn’t agree to the arbitration agreement: For example, your boss says you must go to arbitration, but you never signed an agreement.

What Happens if Arbitration Fails?

Sometimes arbitration fails. In that case, you can try to settle with your employer. You can also bring a court case or file a complaint with a government agency, such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

What Are the Advantages of Arbitration?

Arbitration has several advantages. It’s less formal than court. That makes it faster and cheaper to reach a resolution. Arbitration decisions are also private.

Arbitration has some drawbacks. It’s cheaper than going to court, but it can still be expensive. You also have fewer options to appeal the outcome.

Contact an Employment Lawyer for Help With Your Case

Whether you must go to employment arbitration depends on your circumstances. Some employment agreements require it. So, knowing your legal rights is essential. An employment lawyer can give you legal advice about your wrongful termination case.

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