Arbitration is a cost-effective and time-saving alternative of determining the outcome of age discrimination claims. This process typically involves the following steps:
Determining the Rules that Apply
Most employment arbitration agreements will include provisions regarding the rules that apply in the event of arbitration. These may include specific procedural rules or state laws. They may also reference federal laws, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Attending Preliminary Conferences
There may be preliminary conferences that are scheduled before the actual arbitration date. This conference may determine the scheduling of the arbitration hearing. It may also address other issues, such as discovery matters or other issues that are critical to the case.
The discovery process in arbitration is typically an abbreviated version of the discovery process involved in a court case. Often, the regular rules of evidence do not apply. Common objections in a court case are often inappropriate in the arbitration context.
Presenting a Case for Age Discrimination
The employee carries the initial burden in an age discrimination claim. He or she must show how the employer’s actions resulted in disparate treatment or disparate impact on workers 40 or older. Then, the employer has the burden of showing how the action was not discriminatory. The burden then returns to the employee to establish that the explanations offered by the employer are a pretext.
During arbitration, the parties present their case to the arbitrator. The parties may testify along with any witnesses they bring. The attorneys representing the parties may cross-examine witnesses. They may also present evidence for the arbitrator to consider.
Making a Decision
After the close of evidence and testimony, the arbitrator makes a decision in the case. This case is usually binding on the parties and not subject to appeal.