Arbitration/Settlement of Employment Discrimination Cases

I read a 2003 ABA Journal article last night looking at a 1995 study that compared settled, litigated and arbitrated employment discrimination case outcomes. I found another article that makes the same claim (click here). That study found that both median and average jury verdicts in discrimination cases were at least three times higher than the comparable mean and median arbitration awards. I am not surprised to see a difference but three times higher is pretty stunning. These private arbitral systems seem to be structurally biased, as the EEOC called it, in favor of employers.

Today, Jury Verdict Research reports on its study examining trends in settlements involving discrimination claims from 2000 through 2006. The overall settlement median for employment discrimination claims was $70,000. Plaintiffs’ settlements for disability and race discrimination claims were similar with a median settlement of $75,000.

There is one thing I find interesting about labor and employment litigation lawyers. If you are looking for a labor and employment lawyer in Maryland who defends management, you can find a million and one. Yet it seems like there are 1/100 the number of plaintiffs’ employment lawyers in Maryland. If it takes two to tango and we are talking about litigation, don’t the numbers of labor and employment lawyers on the defense and plaintiffs’ side have to equally balanced? Even if you allow for the “it takes 5 defense lawyers to defend a deposition” phenomenon, I still cannot figure out the extent of the asymmetry.

(And, yes, if you are wondering, this is the day for quick short posts on the Maryland Lawyer Blog. I have some backlog of thoughts from the weekend.)