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Arbitrartion vs. Mediation: What’s the Best Option for Your Sexual Harassment Case?

Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is still a common occurrence throughout New Jersey. Despite state and federal laws outlawing sexual harassment, employees are still subject to this behavior from employers and coworkers alike. 

When sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, you have multiple options to address the behavior and hold the responsible parties accountable. One of these options is alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

ADR is a common practice that allows victims, employers, and third parties to work together to settle cases of sexual harassment without involving the courts. In New Jersey, you can resolve a sexual harassment claim through various types of ADR, such as arbitration and mediation.

If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important to understand how these options may work in your favor.

Sexual Harassment Laws in New Jersey

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) includes provisions that prohibit any sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sexual harassment can include any of the following:

  • Obscene language and demeaning comments 
  • Physical harassment, including unwanted touching
  • Digital harassment through images and videos

New Jersey employers are legally obligated to provide a safe workplace. When an employer fails to meet state and federal standards, you can report sexual harassment and hold the responsible parties accountable. 

Some of the ways you can address a sexual harassment claim include:

  • Mediation or arbitration
  • Filing a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights
  • Filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Division
  • Proceeding with a lawsuit in state or federal court

What option you choose will largely depend on the circumstances behind your sexual harassment claim. While you can resolve some complaints without involving the courts, more serious matters may proceed directly as lawsuits.

Mediation Explained

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution that many victims of sexual harassment prefer. When you move forward with a mediation proceeding, you and your employer will present relevant evidence to a neutral party, who will help you resolve the matter privately.

Mediators cannot make any rulings or decisions as a judge would. In a mediation proceeding, the end goal is to resolve the conflict between both parties.

In many cases, the mediator may attempt to persuade both parties to reach a compromise and offer suggestions, but they cannot legally compel anyone to settle. Should you be unsatisfied with the results, you still have additional forms of relief at your disposal.

Arbitration Explained

Arbitration is similar to mediation but involves a more formal hearing process.

During arbitration, you’ll likely appoint an employment law attorney to represent you. Arbitration resembles a trial, and both parties will make arguments, present evidence and witnesses, and litigate their cases.

The arbitrator is a neutral third party who acts like a judge, reviews the evidence, and makes a ruling to determine the outcome of a sexual harassment claim. Arbitration decisions in New Jersey can be legally binding, meaning both parties must comply with the terms.

Recently, New Jersey legislators passed a law that no longer requires mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims. In other words, any arbitration requirements outlined in labor contracts are no longer enforceable for cases of sexual harassment.

Mediation and Arbitration: The Bottom Line

While mediation and arbitration are cost-effective and less time-consuming solutions, choosing one will largely depend on the circumstances of your sexual harassment claim. If your claim is something you want to resolve without involving the courts, both of these options may be right for you. 

NJ Employment Lawyers, LLC represents sexual harassment clients throughout New Jersey. If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, consult with us today.