Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Arbitration Insights: Efficient and Impartial Employment Dispute Resolution

Patrick Tatum, a Vice President with the AAA®, talks about their role in employment dispute resolution.

CCBJ: Talk to us about the American Arbitration Association® and what role it plays in employment dispute resolution.

Patrick Tatum: The American Arbitration Association is a not-for-profit, public service organization committed to the resolution of disputes through the use of arbitration, mediation and other alternative dispute resolution procedures. As a purely administrative agency, the AAA processes a case from filing to closing. In this role, the Association works with the parties with respect to the selection and appointment of arbitrators or a mediator. The AAA then works with the arbitrator or mediator and the parties to facilitate the transmission of documents, scheduling of conference calls, and setting of hearings or mediation sessions. The goal is to keep cases moving in a fair, efficient and impartial process until completion.

How many employment disputes are filed with the AAA in a given year?

The AAA administers approximately 3,500 employment disputes a year. Eighty percent of these cases settle, which helps reduce the time and cost and allows the parties to move forward relatively quickly. The claims involved in these cases vary from discrimination, wage and hour, termination and many other types of employment workplace related disputes.

Who are the arbitrators and how is it ensured they are neutral and impartial?

AAA arbitrators are independent, impartial decision makers chosen for their knowledge, case experience, integrity and dispute resolution skills. All AAA Employment Panel Members are highly accomplished and respected experts in their fields. AAA arbitrators are trained in a comprehensive program by the AAA to manage the dispute resolution process with fairness and skill, and an eye toward time- and cost-efficiency. Their conduct is guided by the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes, which was prepared by a joint committee of the American Arbitration Association and the American Bar Association. Pursuant to the AAA’s Employment Arbitration Rules, arbitrators must disclose any circumstance likely to give rise to a justifiable doubt as to the arbitrator’s impartiality or independence, including any bias or any financial or personal interest in the result of the arbitration or any past or present relationship with the parties or their representatives. This obligation remains in effect throughout the arbitration. Upon objection of a party to the continued service of an arbitrator, or on its own initiative, the AAA will remove an arbitrator from a case for partiality or lack of independence, inability or refusal to perform his or her duties with diligence and in good faith, and any grounds for disqualification provided by applicable law.

Additionally, The AAA Employment Panel is also 40 percent diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity.

What is meant by confidentiality? Are results of employment arbitrations made public?

Pursuant to the rules, AAA and the arbitrators are not allowed to divulge the details of an arbitration, but nothing in the AAA’s rules prohibits employees or employers from talking about their cases. If an employee is prohibited from talking about the arbitration, it is often a result of having signed a confidentiality agreement with their employers and not related to the nature of arbitration itself. The AAA has published its employment arbitration statistics for at least the past five years. This report can be viewed at

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