Employment Law for Arbitrators, Mediators and HR Professionals (DR108)

This course will provide a basic overview of employment law, focusing on the most significant laws and legal principles that may surface during an employment dispute. The goal is to provide labor and employment mediators, arbitrators, and others working in the Human Resources with a foundation of knowledge that can be used to identify potential legal issues that may be faced by both employers and employees.

The substantive coverage starts with Title VII, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and, most recently, genetics. (Practically speaking, this would include a discussion about pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation).This will be followed by an overview of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A brief overview of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Equal Pay Act (EPA) will be also be provided since these statutes are particularly relevant to compensation claims.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will also be discussed since leave issues (and issues related to reinstatement at the conclusion of a leave) often materialize into wrongful termination claims.

After this statutory foundation is set out, there will be an extensive discussion about employment at-will and its exceptions, just cause, and progressive disciplines which are concepts that are often at the center of employment disputes. An understanding about the role these legal principles play in the resolution of employment disputes is critical for those who are working to help the parties craft amicable resolutions.

This course is intended for aspiring mediators and arbitrators, and established ADR professionals looking to expand their existing knowledge about employment. The course will also be useful for HR Managers, supervisors, and other professionals who want to learn about federal and state laws, regulations, and court cases that may impact what conduct is and is not appropriate in the workplace.


Lori Rassas is currently teaching this and related courses at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Fordham University Law School, and Berkeley College.

Materials: Employment Law: A Guide to Hiring, Managing and Firing for Employers and Employees(Wolters Kluwer 2014) by Lori B. Rassas & Handouts (to be provided).


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