Employment contract related disputes can be very problematic for the employer as well as the employee.

If you are an employer, getting into a legal battle with your employees can harm your reputation, which in turn can make it harder for you to attract the best and brightest talent in your industry.

If you are an employee, getting into a legal battle with your employer can prove to be too costly, since they have the resources to prolong the legal battle indefinitely, whereas you do not.

Employment Relationships Recognized by Massachusetts Law

Generally, two types of employment facets are recognized under Massachusetts law – at-will employment and contract employment.

At-Will Employment

It is, as the name implies, a type of employment relationship in which employees can be hired and dismissed by the employer at will. The employer is not legally obligated to establish just cause in order to dismiss an employee.

Similarly, at-will employees are not contractually bound to work for their employer for a certain period of time. They have the right to quit their job at any time for any reason.

It does not, however, mean that at-will employees in Massachusetts do not have any legal rights at all. Federal anti-discrimination statutes, as well as Massachusetts employment laws, prohibit employers from dismissing at-will employees for the following reasons.

  • Due to their race, religion, sex, gender identity, nationality, or physical disability
  • For taking family or medical leave
  • For refusing to do something illegal
  • For filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against the employer or for testifying against the employer in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by another employee

Contract Employment

It is a type of employment relationship in which both the employer and the employee are bound by the terms of a written contract. The contract usually includes the following details: (a) Compensation, benefits, and perks offered by the employer; (b) Responsibilities of the employee; (c) Nondisclosure agreements; (d) Dispute resolution mechanisms; and (e) Circumstances under which the employee can be fired by the employer

Contract employees can only be dismissed if they fail to comply with the terms of the contract. The employer does not have the right to fire them for any other reason. If the employer, on the other hand, fails to comply with the terms of the contract, the employee has the right to take legal action against them and seek damages.

Challenges with Employment Litigation

Litigation is generally not the right way to resolve employment disputes for several reasons. Litigation can prove to be costly in terms of the time, effort, and money needed to find a solution to the problem at hand.

If one of the parties is not satisfied with the ruling, they have the right to file an appeal with a higher court, where they might try to get the ruling overturned in their favor. The process can go on and on until one of the parties has exhausted all their options.

Litigation – especially cases related to discrimination or wrongful termination – can damage the reputation of the employer and bring negative publicity to their brand.

How Disputes Related to Employment Contracts Can Be Resolved Through Mediation

One of the best ways to resolve disputes related to employment contracts is through mediation. There are many reasons why mediation can be a better option than litigation for such disputes.

Mediation is Completely Informal – The employer and the employee can afford to speak their minds, voice their concerns, and vent out their frustrations with each other.

Non-Binding Process – Involved parties can freely discuss any contentious issue without worrying about the legal consequences of the same. Statements made during a mediation process cannot be used against them in a court of law.

Collaborative Solutions –  Once the parties state their respective positions clearly, they can come up with a solution of their own, keeping their best interests in mind. The mediator can help them meet each other halfway – without compromising their interests too much.

Controllable Outcomes – One of the biggest advantages of employment mediation is that the employee and/or the employer does not feel that they are being cornered and forced into accepting something that is not in their best interest. They both know that they have more control over the outcome of the process.

Outside-the-Box Options – The presence of a third party in the form of the mediator can encourage the parties to think out of the box and come up with a solution that benefits both of them. The mediator usually explains the legal ramifications of each proposal made by the employer and the employee to make sure they both know what they are committing to.

Cost-Effective Solutions –   Above all, the cost of mediation is considerably lower compared to the cost of litigation. This is one of the biggest reasons why mediation remains the preferred choice of many employers and employees when it comes to settling disputes related to employment contracts.

Facing an Employment Contract Dispute? Call an Experienced Mediator Today

Unlike litigation, mediation does not strain the professional relationship between the employee and the employer. So, once the dispute has been resolved, the employee can – if they wish to – continue to work for the employer.  

Are you facing an employment contract dispute? If so, reach out to the experienced mediators at Shapiro Mediation Services in Massachusetts today. Disputes over employment contracts, if not handled quickly or correctly, can lead to lengthy legal battles in the court system. Call our office today at (339) 298-7733 to schedule a consultation with an experienced Massachusetts mediator.

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