Workplace conflicts can often arise in a variety of work settings and situations. They can involve disputes between co-workers as well as disputes between workers and employers. Federal and state laws regulate conflicts in the workplace. Every state has laws that govern disputes in the workplace. There are also many different federal statutes that grant employment rights to both workers and employers. Some common types of workplace lawsuits involve:
- Wrongful termination;
- Wage and hours disputes;
- Other pay/benefits disputes; and/or
- Personal disputes between co-workers.
These types of workplace lawsuits can sometimes be filed as class action lawsuits like when a company may have policies in their handbook that negatively affect large groups of workers. In such case, a class action suit may be necessary.
What is Conflict Resolution in the Workplace?
Conflict resolution in the workplace often refers to internal dispute resolution efforts that are put into place by the management. These can include services provided by the company such as:
- Human resources intervention;
- Work-sponsored mediation;
- Counseling; and
- Other remedies such as putting an employee on probation or termination.
Ultimately, conflict resolution is aimed at remedying or preventing conflicts, including hostile work environments, while using the company’s own resources. If used early and effectively, sometime it is enough to resolve any issues of conduct or disputes in the workplace.
Is Conflict Resolution Required?
Conflict resolution is usually suggested as an option, but is not mandatory. In fact, conflict resolution may not always be a practical choice for dealing with disputes, especially if the parties are unwilling to work with each other. But conflict resolution is more informal than a court proceeding, which many people would prefer.
Many courts and judges promote conflict resolution as a way for the parties to resolve conflicts in a way that costs less and is less time-consuming than a lengthy court battle. The overall cost of going to trial should be considered when dealing with a workplace dispute. If the dispute is ongoing, it can wear on the individuals involved and blow the situation out of proportion. If possible, it is a good idea to attempt conflict resolution and see if the parties can be happy.
What If Workplace Conflict Resolution Is Not Sufficient?
But, if workplace conflict resolution isn’t enough to remedy the situation, it may be necessary for the parties to take legal action. They may need to file a civil lawsuit for damages, or they can file a complaint with a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Center (EEOC). These avenues of relief may be needed for more serious conflicts and violations, such as those involving harassment or discrimination and can lead to federal lawsuits.
How Do I File a Workplace Lawsuit?
In many cases, it is not possible to file a lawsuit directly after a violation has been discovered and you will need to file a claim with a state or federal employment agency, such as the EEOC. Once you file your complaint, the agency will then conduct an investigation into your claim and prescribe a possible remedy or solution for your problem.
If the agency was not able to resolve your dispute you may be able to file a lawsuit only if the remedy provided by the agency is not sufficient to meet your need. In some cases, it may be possible to obtain a right to sue letter that will allow you to file a private lawsuit.
Can My Employer Retaliate Against For Filing a Complaint?
Many people do not file complaints because they are afraid of retaliation from their employer. However, federal law prohibits your employer from retaliating against you for objecting to a paycheck deduction, even if you turn out to be wrong. If your employer does try to "get back" at you, you can file a retaliation claim with the Department of Labor or contact an employment attorney for more options.
Keep in mind that your employer can face serious consequences if they retaliate against you for filing a complaint. Retaliation includes any unwarranted:
- Verbal/Physical abuse;
- Negative Reviews;
- Changing schedule to be difficult to meet; and/or
- Hostile treatment.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help with Conflict Resolution Issues?
Workplace conflicts may often require the assistance of a qualified employment lawyer. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need help filing a claim or if you will be contacting a government agency. Your attorney can provide you with legal representation, research, and advice.