Should agency management use ADR or "let's make a deal" in order to discourage an employee from appealing a disciplinary action that he or she really believes is unfair? 

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Without knowing the full specifics of the situation, agency management should seek to resolve employee grievances as efficiently as possible.  If that involves using the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as an approach to accomplish this, then it should be pursued.

In any hypothetical situation as to what management should do, specific details have to be addressed.  I believe that if agency management can resolve an issue through ADR, then it has to be pursued.  ADR does not always result in payment.  If we look at ADR as "let's make a deal," it should be understood that the "deal" is not always money:  "ADR typically includes early neutral evaluation, negotiation, conciliation, mediation, and arbitration." While monetary compensation is a part of ADR, making a deal can be "neutral evaluation."  Agency management might want to pursue a neutral evaluation via ADR in the case of the employee who is appealing a disciplinary action.  If the employee believes that the disciplinary action is unfair, the outside evaluation might help alleviate their frustration.

Merely negotiating with the aggrieved party can represent ADR.  Agency management should want to pursue such options before undertaking anything severe.  From management's perspective, ADR should be sought:

Rather than receiving a decision from an unknown third party, such as an administrative judge, the parties have the opportunity to write their own agreement in a manner which satisfies both of their needs. Not only does ADR provide a Win-Win resolution for the parties, but it also usually costs less and uses fewer resources than traditional administrative or adjudicative processes.

ADR seeks to create a "win- win" situation, or a scenario where all parties feel they have been validated.

If the employee really believes that the situation is unfair, then it seems that their pursuit can easily take legal form.  Employees who feel aggrieved might believe that they have little to lose, that they are proving a point to management, and that the court system will provide vindication for their cause.  Agency management should embrace ADR  as an intervention to avoid these. Without ADR, management has to confront potentially losing in court, issues with public perception, and expensive fees.  In the face of such realities in dealing with an employee who feels they have been really treated unfairly, ADR is a viable option for agency management.