Gender, Age, Race, Disability and other Discrimination, Sexual Harassment,
Glass Ceiling, Wrongful Termination, Lay-offs and Reductions in Force
The nation-wide marketing department of an educational software company, headquartered in California, decides to close its northeastern division. The three employees in the division are offered a choice: positions in California or a modest severance payment in exchange for a release of all claims against the company and all its employees. The two male employees accept the jobs in California. The third employee is a single mother who cannot move out of New Jersey where she resides. She is about to accept the severance proposal when she realizes that she will have to release the claim that she has already lodged against her supervisor for sexual harassment. She made her claim a month before the reorganization, after a company-wide meeting held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Her complaint states that at the meeting the supervisor who works at the headquarters office in California forced her to accompany him to casinos and other adult entertainment venues. Instead of accepting the severance, she retains a New Jersey attorney. His demand letter seeks damages for sexual harassment, gender and marital status discrimination, wrongful termination in violation of public policy (retaliation) and other related claims. Usually these cases do not create the venue issues of this scenario, but even without that complication, it is becoming commonplace to mediate stormy and emotional cases either before litigation is filed or very early in litigation. After both sides have invested resources and emotions in the litigation process it can become more complicated to settle, especially when unanticipated events tip the scales in one party’s favor.