What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of "Alternative Dispute Resolution" - a way to settle cases and disputes outside of the courtroom. Mediation can be engaged in voluntarily by the parties at any stage of the dispute -- before a lawsuit is filed, while a lawsuit is pending, early in the litigation, on the eve of trial, and even after trial during the appeal process. Most courts in Florida will order the parties in a lawsuit to mediation at some point during litigation, but it is not necessary for the parties to wait for a court order of mediation. In employment law matters, it has been our experience that early mediation, even before a lawsuit is filed, is often a prime opportunity for the parties to resolve the matter before they have invested too heavily in the litigation process. Mediation is also valuable when the parties to the dispute are still in an employment relationship. Unlike other kinds of cases where the parties may be complete strangers to each other, employment law matters often involve people who are involved in ongoing or long-term relationships. For these circumstances, mediation is particularly helpful in many cases.
In mediation, the mediator does not "decide" the case. Rather, the mediator is a neutral person who facilitates the parties reaching an agreement for settlement of the case. The power to decide the outcome rests with the parties, but the mediator is in charge of the process, and a highly-effective mediator uses a wide variety of ideas, methods, skills and experience to effectuate a settlement, often achieving settlement in cases where the parties did not believe that settlement was possible.
Florida Statutes Chapter 44 and court rules in Florida establish the legal framework for mediation in Florida. Mediation is used throughout Florida, in state and federal courts, as mediation has proven to be a highly effective tool for dispute resolution. The Florida Supreme Court certifies mediators, and requires rigorous training and education for mediator certification. For more information on the Florida mediation qualifications, see the Florida Dispute Resolution Center website.
Patricia R. Sigman is certified as a Circuit Civil Mediator by the Florida Supreme Court.
Employment Law Mediation is unique in its legal principles, its interpersonal dynamics, and its settlement terms. Bringing many years of experience as an Employment Lawyer to the mediation table, Ms. Sigman provides the knowledge and experience to facilitate the mediation for the litigants.