Dispute Resolution and Labor Law

In every company disputes are a norm as the company can sue or be sued at any time. It is thus important for a company’s legal advisors to understand the nature of a legal issue brought before them in order to apply the most effective dispute resolution approach that is fair to both parties.

Dispute resolution is the settlement of grievances between the involved parties and its approaches include, litigation and alternative dispute resolution, ADR. Litigation involves taking a case through a court of law. This process involves a plaintiff, who is the complainant, and the defendant. Litigation is time-consuming and more expensive than other dispute resolution methods. Alternatively, the parties can resolve their issues through a neutral individual who acts as a mediator, or through negotiation, arbitration, and neutral evaluation (Jennings, 2014). Negotiation involves a voluntary process whereby the parties attempt to reach a mutually satisfactory pact through informal or unstructured talks. The negotiators try to satisfy the parties’ interests without a determination of who is right or wrong through a mutually satisfactory agreement. 

In arbitration, a neutral person, arbitrator hears the case from both parties and decides the outcome. It may either be binding or non-binding. A binding arbitration mandates the parties to waive their right to trial and should accept the arbitrator’s decision as final. Non-binding arbitration means that the parties can freely request a trial if they do not accept the decision made. In neutral evaluation, an evaluator gives his opinion and final decision on the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s evidence and arguments (Jennings, 2014). 

In the case of the woman who fell after slipping on a banana peel and Good Grocers, Inc., alternative dispute resolution would be better than litigation. The appropriate means would be mediation, whereby a neutral party would be appointed by both parties to resolve the issue and find a common ground on which the case can be solved. It would be important for the woman to understand that mediation would not involve giving up her right to a trial by a jury or the right to otherwise adjudicate her claim. This method is not binding and any party who feels that they cannot get justice can leave the negotiating table.

The mediation exercise can be done formally at an agency or with a judge serving as the mediator (Jennings, 2014). Informally, the parties can agree to hire a private mediator so that they can reach a resolution without the costs and formalities of formal litigation. Resolution of the dispute through mediation would save Good Grocers Inc. time and money, the resolution, by consent of the parties, would be private. Moreover, confidentiality would allow the parties to speak their minds, for instance, the manager would inform the mediators that the woman was wearing high-heeled shoes, which could have resulted to her falling. Besides, the banana peel he had seen was still yellow and lying on top of a ribbed rubber mat, an indication that it had not been stepped on. 

Parties in this case would be allowed to speak about the emotional issues surrounding the case, and understand the genesis of the dispute. However, the complainants may feel that they are losing their formal discovery process, and thus opt for litigation (Jennings, 2014). The process of litigation would involve obtaining and filling a writ of summons and statement of claim and presenting them to Good Grocers. Defense attorney would then fill an appearance and a statement of defense in reply to the claims. The plaintiff then reviews the statement of defense to make a summary judgment application. A pre-trial date is set followed by pre-trial conference, then the trial. After judgment is passed, the loser can appeal after which an examination in aid of execution is done. The actual execution of judgment and settlement follow (Jennings, 2014). 

The Virginia Payment and Wage law mandates employers to establish regular pay rates and dates, in a bid to protect employees’ rights (Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, VDLI 2014). The division investigates any claims brought before it for alleged violation of labor laws and talks the employers into settling the claims. As such, an employee is termed as an independent contractor if his employer has the right to direct or control the results of their work. The employer cannot control or determine how the work is done or the work to be done. Additionally, an employee is classified as a part-time worker if they work for between one to thirty-four hours in a week (O’Toole & Lawler, 2007).

In cases where a worker is wrongly classified as an independent contractor and not a firm’s employee, they will not be eligible for employment benefits enjoyed by other employees. Besides, eligibility for employment would be reduced. This would affect a worker’s right to payment for all the hours worked or under employer’s control. It would also subdue the right to legal minimum wage, unemployment benefits, social security contributions, and employer benefits, for instance, pension, sick leave, vacation, and medical insurance (O’Toole & Lawler, 2007)

Ms. Greene’s claim that she is a part-time worker are legitimate because she works for three hours on three days, which makes her a part-time worker. The equipment she uses are furnished by the company, and does not come with her own equipment as an independent contractor would. This then entitles her to the same benefits as the rest of the part-time workers in the firm. However, she runs her own business and is only contacted and paid by the cake, and Good Grocers control the hours she works, which may have her classified as an independent contractor.

Upon consideration, Ms. Greene is entitled to the part-time benefits because the necessary equipment Ms. Greene uses is supplied by Good Grocers, and does not choose whether to go to work or not. Moreover, if the hiring party controls the way work is done and the outcome, then the relationship is an employer-employee one. 

 

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