About a month ago, we discussed what might constitute a 'hostile working environment' for Oklahoma employees who may be experiencing sexual harassment or discrimination based upon their gender or appearance. We have also previously touched on some of the basic ways to go about filing employment discrimination claims, including contacting the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the state agency responsible for such claims. Once these administrative remedies have been taken, the employee may have to resort to litigation. However, it is possible that the case can be settled through a different method: mediation.
Mediation is a process in civil legal proceedings in which the two sides meet with a trained neutral party to attempt to hammer out an agreement that will settle the legal dispute. Some advantages to mediation are that it is often less expensive and less time-consuming than litigation. In cases involving sexual harassment and discrimination, it may also have the advantage of avoiding having the victim recount potentially uncomfortable and embarrassing incidents in open court.
As we pointed out last week, proving a hostile work environment in a court proceeding may not be easy. There is both a subjective and objective component to it, and it often will rely solely on the testimony of the witness. Resolving such cases through mediation may avoid such complications. Our firm's attorneys are experienced in both mediation and litigation, and have helped past clients determine which may be the most appropriate course of action.
Every case is different and whether mediation is an appropriate action will depend on the specific circumstances of each claim. Anyone who feels they have been sexually harassed at work, however, should be aware that they have legal rights. Anyone wishing for more information on sexual harassment or other employment discrimination is welcome to view our webpage on the subject.