Posted On: February 19, 2010

Does EEOC/MCHR Mediation Work?

We frequently receive calls from persons trying to figure out whether they should agree to mediate their discrimination or sexual harassment claims at the EEOC or the Maryland Commission for Human Relations. My answer is always the same. Yes. Because you have nothing to lose by doing so, and you may be able to resolve your case, instead of waiting at least six to twelve months for the EEOC or MCHR to conduct their investigation.

Of course, if you are not going to be reasonable and expect to obtain a million dollars, or even one-hundred thousand dollars, your case is unlikely to settle. However, if you are willing to settle if you can obtain your lost wages and perhaps some additional compensation for attorneys' fees or emotional distress, then you have a real shot of settling the case, as long as your employer is also willing to be reasonable. In my recent experience, we have settled nearly 80% of our mediations, in amounts ranging from approximately $7,500 to $75,000, depending on the extent of the damages and the strength of the case.

Some attorneys don't like for their clients to participate in mediation because they believe that they are providing "free discovery" to the employer, effectively tipping their hand before litigation has even started. In my view, that is not a real issue, because you will have to provide that information to the employer in the discovery process anyway, so you are not giving the employer any unfair advantage if the case does not settle.

Should you bring an attorney to the mediation? Absolutely. Because otherwise, you simply don't have the necessary experience to value your case and to negotiate the best possible settlement. You also will not have familiarity with the law and, possibly, with the mediators and opposing counsel. Finally, it is advantageous to have someone to provide emotional support when dealing with such a tense and emotional event.

Posted On: February 16, 2010

What Happens If You Lose Your Unemployment Appeal?

One of the most frequently asked questions in our office is what happens if you lose the initial unemployment appeals hearing? Or, what if you win the hearing and the employer files an appeal? The next step in the process is an appeal to the Board of Appeals -- a three judge panel based in Baltimore that reviews the decisions of the lower hearing examiners. In a nutshell, you must file a request for an appeal with the Board of Appeals, explaining why you believe that the hearing examiner's decision was incorrect. In the vast majority of cases, the Board of Appeals simply affirms the original decision after reviewing the recording of the first hearing. In rare instances, however, the Board of Appeals will schedule a hearing to review the case. When that happens, the case is reargued again in front of all three judges, although the Board may or may not allow the parties to present new evidence or testimony.

After the Board issues its decision, the losing party has the option of appealing to any Circuit Court in Maryland. This is a complicated process involving the filing of a notice of appeal, then the filing of an appellate brief and finally oral arguments before a Circuit Court judge.

If you are considering filing an appeal in the Circuit Court, we may be able to assist you, although you should be aware that because of the amount of time and work involved, our fees for such representation are fairly substantial, typically between $1,500 and $2,000.00.

Posted On: February 15, 2010

EEOC Mediation in Baltimore, Maryland

When a person files an EEOC charge, the first step in the process -- usually several months after the charge is filed -- is for the EEOC to contact the claimant and the employer to see if both sides are willing to go to mediation to try to resolve their dispute before the EEOC commits its resources to investigating the allegations. Generally, a third party, called a mediator, works with both parties at the EEOC, often for several hours, to try to reach a resolution.

During the mediation, each side will present its view of the issue, and the mediator will work with each side in separate rooms to attempt to work out a settlement. At the end of the process, the parties either reach agreement or they don't, in which case the EEOC will send the case to the investigation stage. The mediation process, unlike arbitration, is non-binding; that is, the mediator does not impose a decision on the parties, but he/she attempts to present a solution that is acceptable to both parties.

At the Law Office of Andrew M. Dansicker, we represent claimants in mediations involving employment discrimination and sexual harassment every few weeks before the EEOC and have had great success in managing the complex process of mediation with exceptional results. In fact, we have settled approximately 80% of the mediations that we have handled for claimants. First, we discuss your case with you and review your documentation so that we can determine the strength and potential value of your case. Second, we prepare you for the mediation, as you will frequently be required to present your story to the opposing party. Finally, we negotiate for you in an effort to obtain the best possible results.

Don't make the mistake of trying to handle a mediation on your own. The employer will likely be represented by experienced counsel, and unless you know how to value your case and negotiate with opposing counsel, you are likely to walk away frustrated.