Legal Advice: How to Handle a Conflict in the Workplace

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Being the boss means that you are the person to be held responsible when something happens inside your office. It won’t matter if you are directly involved in the conflict, if you’re knowledgeable about what’s happening but did nothing, or if you’re completely oblivious about the matter at hand.

At the end of the day, the conflict that arises within your workplace can affect your business as a whole and that’s why you need to handle it immediately. The best response here would be to address both parties involved and see if it can be solved amongst yourselves.

However, if the conflict is much bigger than what you can handle on your own, you won’t be able to stop the complainant from filing a claim in court. This can include cases like discrimination, harassment, issues regarding the contract, and wrongful termination, to name a few.

As the head of your company, it is your job to see to it that these internal conflicts won’t affect your day-to-day operations. That’s because if this gets out of hand, not only will it hurt your business, but it can also lead to your very demise. To give you an idea, here’s how workplace disputes usually turn out:

The Plaintiff Files a Claim in Court

Conflicts in the workplace typically arise when an employee feels like they aren’t being valued for their worth. These can also surface when the employee’s needs and expectations for the job are left unaddressed or are being dismissed.

While most conflicts can be settled within the workplace, some escalate and reach the court. In this scenario, the plaintiff or the party suing can take their grievances to court so that their claims can be addressed in a legal setting. Through this, the plaintiff will be ensured that their complaint won’t just be swept under the rug.

After the complaint has been filed, the defendant or the party being sued will be notified when they are served the summons and complaint. This summons will contain the details of the case, which court the case is in, as well as the names of the parties involved and their respective legal representatives.

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Both Parties Can Try to Settle through Mediation

Once the defendant receives the summons and complaint, they only have a specific number of days to respond before the plaintiff wins by default judgment. By filing an answer, the defendant will have the opportunity to provide their side of the story and undergo the complete litigation process.

As the employer, you can help your employees solve their conflicts by aiding in whatever way you can. For instance, you can recommend an employment mediator who can serve as the neutral third party to their case. Mediation is one of the best methods of settling a dispute outside of court because it’s less time-consuming and inexpensive.

By participating in mediation, the plaintiff and the defendant can shed light on their conflict without the problem escalating into a much bigger dispute. This is the part where the plaintiff can justify their claims by sharing their version of the story and saying what compensation they want to get out of the case.

If both parties can reach an amicable settlement agreement through mediation, the case will no longer have to proceed to court. The agreement will be put into writing, which will then be signed by both parties. However, if the parties fail to reach an agreement, the possibility of the case reaching the court becomes higher.

When All Else Fails, the Case Goes to Court

After the parties involved have exhausted every alternative dispute resolution available and have yet to agree, the only remaining option will be to settle the matter in court. Depending on the dispute being addressed, there may be several trials and appeals before the final verdict is given.

In this scenario, both the plaintiff and defendant will have to be represented by their lawyers. Once the trial begins, both sides will have the chance to present their cases, cross-examine witnesses, and make closing arguments that will appeal to the judge as well as the jury, if there are any.

After the judge or jury has come to a final verdict, only then will the case be considered closed. In some cases, the losing party may try to appeal their case because they are unsatisfied with the verdict. This can lead to even longer litigation, which means more expensive fees and time out of the workplace.

Resolving conflicts in the workplace can be physically and emotionally taxing for all the parties involved. That’s why many employers engage their employees in seminars regarding conflict prevention, so they can solve the problems at their roots. To stop minor conflicts from spiraling out of control, you must do what you can to address them immediately through the appropriate conflict resolution methods.

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