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Legal Insider: Benefits of Resolving Employment Disputes Without Litigation

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

While it is not always possible to avoid litigation in employment cases, resolving an employment dispute without litigation, if possible, is strongly recommended and should be considered by both employees and employers.

We have represented both employees and employers and the benefits of resolution usually far outweigh the lengthy litigation process. Some benefits to consider include:

1. Avoid Extended Litigation: We have had employment cases in extended litigation that take between three to six years in the court process.

When going into an employment case, an employee and employer should consider whether it makes sense to litigate these types of cases over such a potentially long period of time.

Usually, employees do not want to have such a long period of uncertainty to their career, and an employer does not want to spend $50,000 to $100,000 (or more) litigating an employment case. Employers can also have similar uncertainties about staffing while a case is pending.

2. Limiting Costs: Extended litigation can cost a lot of money for both employees and employers.

Employees usually pay for these fees out of pocket and employers either pay these fees out of pocket or through increased premiums in their use of insurance defense policies.

Some of our most satisfied clients are those who have decided to resolve their disputes early in the process and save themselves money. They may reach a compromise that is not perfect, but sometimes it is far better than the result of the litigation.

3. No Stress from Discovery: Because we have taken a number of depositions over the years of managers, witnesses and employees, we can tell you that going through the discovery process can take a stressful toll on both employers and employees.

The former employee often undergoes a high level of stress in telling his or her story to an opposing attorney who is looking to disprove their account through questioning.

For employers, it is no better because managers also get stressed about telling the truth while being loyal to the company. Managers also tend to be far less productive at work when they’re under this type of stress.

For both sides, discovery also means going back through emails (sometime work, sometimes personal emails) and other documents and producing them to the other side.

4. Possibility of Better Outcomes: Settling claims early, as opposed to later in the process, can often lead to better outcomes.

Sometimes a less than perfect resolution offered early looks great in hindsight after the parties have spent additional thousands of dollars in the litigation process. Employees and employers typically risk little by trying to resolve a dispute early. If the attempt fails, then litigation usually remains an option.

The key to a realistic attempt at settlement is for both parties to leave their feelings out of the process and try to reach a compromise. Another key is that employees and employers should instruct their attorneys, if they want to try to settle early, that they want to try to reach a compromise.

Unless employees and employers take this step, attorneys often go through the process of presuming that litigation is certain and make little attempt to resolve things prior to litigation.

Some cases need to be litigated in court, but the vast majority should really be resolved through settlement when possible. It generally yields better results for both employers and employees.

Our law firm represents and advises employees and employers on employment-related matters in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

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