Other ADR Processes

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 "med-arb" 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 discrimination occurred.

Consult with an attorney if you have questions about alternative dispute resolution processes that may apply to your situation.

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