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Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal

Volume 11 2007 Number 2

Empirical Research on Employment Arbitration: Clarity Amidst the Sound and Fury?


Alexander J.S. Colvin


This article reviews the existing empirical research on employment arbitration and presents new findings based on analysis of data from recent American Arbitration Association employment arbitration case filings. Whereas past research often concluded based on more limited datasets that outcomes from employment arbitration were generally similar to those from litigation, results of the present study, which is based on a larger dataset focused on cases involving employer promulgated agreements, indicate that both employee win rates and damage awards in employment arbitration are significantly lower than in litigation. By contrast, results of the present study confirm previous research findings that time to hearing is generally shorter in employment arbitration than in litigation. As with past research, the present study finds evidence of a repeat player effect, though with some uncertainty as to the causal explanation for this effect. Self-representation of employees is found to be associated with significantly worse employee win rates and damage awards, particularly where the case involves by a repeat employer-arbitrator pairing. Lastly, the article reviews research indicating some positive impacts of employment arbitration on the adoption and operation of internal organizational dispute resolution procedures.


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