Arbitration/Mediation/what to do next


work for a major insurance company, in a busy call center that handles an Underwriting type of service for the past 8 years. I've had with no issues with my work, infact my stats have exceeded most parameters.

The volume of interviews I do a year is roughly 4500 a year with 5000 additional outbound calls, meaning I'm involved with over 9 thousand calls a year.

A new manager in our department has been trying to make a lot of changes in the past year; changes that don't make the job easier or more efficient. So on occasion, when one of these new changes, conflicts with doing business, I have raised it to the managers and specialists, only to say we may need to look at this. This however as of late, has seemingly put a target on me -and they are scrutinizing my work; and trying to get me terminated, using wrongful use of voicemail as a reason. There is an unsent message still in my voicemail that wasn't deleted; claiming I was listening to it to avoid taking a call.

Here are some bullet points-

there is no indicator on the phones if there is an incoming voice mail msg

the only way to check your msgs is to call your voice mail

50x in 2013 averages to once a week

is too small a factor to affect any stats

have received instant messages from underwriters to check my voicemail as they had left information  regarding pending cases

coworker had called vm message regarding her car not starting-but never got the message since was avoiding using voice mail

my itt was 85% for the year & return to que or calls bounced was 0.2%
both these stats show I significantly exceeded making myself available to take the next available call-the lifeblood of the call center
They are currently evaluating my case and could use some advice on how to handle this

Thank you for your question!  

As I always note to questioners, mediators act as neutral third parties to disputes and never "get involved" in judging the merits of conflict, but merely use special techniques to help the parties decide how to negotiate their own settlement.

I am not a lawyer and cannot give you legal advice, nor can I mediate this with you alone but I can respond to your question from my business consulting experience.

Note that this matter may have legal ramifications and you may wish to consult an attorney.

Remember that you are dealing with large organizations and managers who are only interested in the path of least resistance in terms of how they manage the business.  I'm guessing they could care less about you so don't put too much investment in their position.  They want to try to make up "so called" business reasons to justify their behavior and now you must create additional "business reasons" to deal fairly with you, however it is important to realize that they can usually make any decision, fair or not, and force you to have to seek justice on your own.  If you reside in a so-called "right to work" state, you may have even less leverage as the law allows them to fire you for any reason, however they cannot treat you differently than others.

Please begin by documenting a very careful chronology of events as they have occurred.  Names, dates and locations.  Put things in writing at this point paying careful attention to any evidences of how OTHERS have been treated in similar situations--good or bad. You want to be able to document patterns of practices to show that you are being singled out -- especially important in right-to-work states. Do your best to get stats and records relating to your performance versus OTHER workers.  You will have to decide if it is best to disclose that you have this information up front or save it for a hearing after they incorrectly blame you.  If they are not dealing fairly, it is a bad idea to tip your hand as they will just change the cause to get around you.

If there are any, please request a written copy of the policies and procedures pertaining to your employment rights from the company or union (or both).  Make sure you get a specific copy of any grievance procedures.  If you are let go, ask in writing for a written explanation of the detailed reasons for your termination. Place your requests in writing and send them certified.  This will notice up the company that they have awakened a potentially serious problem.  

You may have a fairly detailed grievance process available to you through your union or HR department.  This is the most likely best avenue to follow.  If your union or company is not following its own procedures and policy you can file a grievance with the US Dept of Labor.

Once you understand the complete process, you should make preparations for the worst case scenario.  If you are fired, immediately send a demand letter certified, state your case, and ask for a hearing or other resolution remedies appropriate to the process you are seeking.  You should think about copying your letter to:

US Dept of Labor
State Labor Office
Better Business Bureau
Local press outlets
Union office
Trade associations or certifying bodies

The company and/or the union must see that their behavior can be quantified in specific economic harm to you, and it will cost a lot more to deal with all the problems you will cause them for their practices and then they will make a business decision and settle fairly with you.  Be cool, calm and professional, but be sure that they know you are serious as a heart attack and have every intention of seeking either to be made whole or you will be after them in every way possible.

These are some ideas.  Feel free to follow up with additional questions.

For your information, the pros and cons of the types of dispute resolution methods follows.


Arbitration, Mediation, and Litigation

Arbitration: the referral of a dispute to one or more impartial persons for final and binding determination outside of the judicial system

Benefits of Arbitration:
Confidential, no public record
Limited exchange of documentation, information
Quick, don't have to wait for a court date
Arbitrators have expertise in the subject matter and are trained in conflict resolution
Cheaper than litigation
Preserves business relationships

Negatives of Arbitration

It's a compromise, no 100% winner
Complex arbitration can be costly
If not satisfied, may litigate the arbitration procedure
Poor results with an unskilled arbitrator
Both parties must agree to cooperate in the process

Mediation: the process by which parties submit their dispute to a neutral third party (the mediator) who works with the parties to reach a settlement of their dispute.

Benefits of Mediation:

Neutral mediator can objectively suggest alternatives not considered before
Parties are directly engaged in negotiating the settlement
Can be quicker than litigation
Less costly than litigation
Preserves business relationships
85% of American Arbitration Association cases mediated find successful solutions

Negatives of Mediation

may not reach a binding decision
unskilled mediator

Litigation: using the judicial system to resolve disputes

Benefits of litigation:

a clear winner and loser
uses a prescribed set of procedures
more predictable outcomes
is final

Negatives of Litigation:

waiting for court dates can do more harm
usually more expensive than mediation and arbitration
part of the public record  


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Timmy Chou


I am a experienced Mediator and a partner in a management consulting firm. As a mediator I work as a third-party neutral and specialize in partnership/shareholder disputes, management/labor issues, company culture difficulties, and family-owned business problems. I can help describe why alternative dispute resolution may be a good choice for you. As an experienced management consultant I may be able to offer creative ideas to help resolve your organizational and business problems and disputes. "If you say conflict, I say opportunity".

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