Articles Posted in Alternative Dispute Resolution

Summary: This article discusses some strategies, including different contract clauses, that employers might use to try to control where you can sue them, or to try to sue you in a far-away place. 

If you are in a legal dispute with your employer, where the lawsuit is filed can make a big difference.  That affects who the judge is or who might be on the jury.  Exactly where a lawsuit can be filed depends on the nature of the legal claims in it.  However, two basic principles generally apply.  If there are multiple permissible options of where to file suit, the party filing suit gets to choose where to file suit.  However, the location must be somewhere that has “personal jurisdiction” over the defendant—i.e., the defendant has to have sufficient connections to the location for it to be legally “fair” to sue them there.  This article, however, explores ways that employers may try to get around these basic principles through contracts containing “forum selection” or “venue selection” clauses.

While Texas is an at-will state and sometimes you may have next to nothing in writing from your employer that controls the terms and conditions of your employment, your employer might force you to sign things like a non-compete or an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment.  Those may contain language trying to force any disputes to be heard somewhere specific to get around the usual rules for where they should be heard.[1]  This can potentially result in situations where you, a Texas employee, are either sued or have your lawsuit moved to a location far from you or even out of state.  This might also result in non-Texas employees being sued or forced to only sue in Texas.

What is mediation?

You’ve filed a complaint with the EEOC, OSHA, or the Texas Workforce Commission and were told that your case will be referred to mediation. Or your own employer’s internal grievance process includes mediation as an option. But what is mediation? Is it a good option?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). ADR could mean many different things, but in short, it means settling disputes without having to litigate the case in court. Examples of ADR include mediation, arbitration, or even direct negotiations.

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