There are other alternative dispute resolution processes that are used
less often than mediation and arbitration.
When an employment discrimination case is filed in federal court, the
court usually requires the parties to participate in alternative dispute
resolution before trial. These ADR processes include mediation and
arbitration, in addition to "early neutral evaluation" ("ENE") and
judicial settlement conferences. The ENE process is conducted by a neutral
attorney who is knowledgeable of the field of law that is invoved in the
case. The attorney may request written statements from the parties, and
will usually have an in-person meeting to hear the evidence from both sides.
The attorney then states her opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of
each side of the case. The purpose of ENE is to assist the parties in
evaluating the case, so that both sides better understand the strengths
and weaknesses of their arguments. A benefit of the process is that the
parties have more information on which to assess the settlement value of
the case. The ENE attorney may also discuss settlement with the parties,
but only if both parties express a willingness to talk about settlement. A
judicial settlement conference occurs when a judge, usually a magistrate
judge, meets with the parties to attempt resolution of the case. The
parties may request that a settlement conference be held, and sometimes
a judge will order that a settlement conference be held before trial.
Federal court ADR programs can be reached through the links on this website.
An example is the ADR program described on the website of the District
Court for the Northern District of California ADR in the Northern District of California
You may encounter other ADR processes that are used less often in employment
discrimination cases. One is called
where an effort is made to mediate the case before an arbitration begins.
Another process is a non-binding summary bench or jury trial, that is
sometimes called "mini-trial." The purpose of the mini-trial is to allow
the parties to
present and hear an abbreviated version of the case, and receive an advisory
decision on the merits of the case. Sometimes "Special Masters" (neutral experts
paid for by the parties) are used
by courts to handle settlement negotiations. Another ADR process called "conciliation"
is used by the EEOC and other fair employment practices agencies to settle
cases after the agencies issue administrative determinations that unlawful
Consult with an attorney if you have questions about alternative dispute
resolution processes that may apply to your situation.
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