As an employer in California, you realize that your employees are your company’s most valuable resource. Your business’ reputation depends on their dedication and performance. Thus, one can understand your desire to avoid any potential disputes that could put any strain on your relationship with them.
Such strain can often arise from a dispute with a single worker (as others infer your intent towards your workforce in general based on your actions in an individual case). This gives you every incentive to try and mediate any workplace disputes that may arise in order to preserve both an employee’s standing within your company and your overall reputation. The question then becomes which form of mediation is most appropriate.
As is the case with many legal matters, the answer depends on the unique circumstances of your case. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, there are two common forms of legal mediation. Both address the specific role of the mediator in your dispute. The first is facilitative mediation. In this scenario, the mediator only serves to facilitate your proceedings with your employee; they do not offer any advice or expertise. Such a scenario is quite common in cases involving disputes over internal matters, given that you are the subject matter expert when it comes to your company’s policies and procedures. In many situations, the anticipated outcome of facilitative mediation is simply a settlement.
When your dispute involves a question of regulatory guidelines or statutes, however, then having a knowledgeable third-party involved may be beneficial. This describes a case of evaluative mediation, where both you and your employee look to them to provide guidance on different matters related to your case. In evaluative mediation cases, you may even look to the mediator to render binding decisions in your dispute.