Workplace and Employment Disputes

Arbitration can be an effective means to resolving disputes among individuals and companies that find themselves in workplace and employment-related conflicts. These types of disputes can have a negative impact on employee morale, workplace relationships, company performance, as well as its reputation; therefore it’s important that they are delicately handled.

Many workplace disputes are a result of human behaviour and personality clashes. Co-workers can come into conflict with each other, or managers can clash with subordinates. At times, it may simply commence as a misunderstanding, a disagreement over a task or project workflow, or a small issue that prevents colleagues from having a pleasant working relationship with one another. In other cases, factors such as gender may influence communication and conduct in the workplace. For instance, a line manager might promote a man over a woman for a role that requires leadership qualities, without proper consideration. This type of discrimination, in addition to violating the right to equal employment opportunity that is required in every workplace, can initiate a dispute.

Discrimination can take several other forms in the workplace; it is not limited to gender. Workplaces may discriminate against employees based on their age, culture, sexual orientation, religious background or political affiliations. Employees may be singled out or bullied because of their differences, and at times, companies may selectively hire or fire individuals based on the aforementioned attributes.

Personality-based conflict and discrimination disputes aside, workplaces may also encounter disputes with their employees that stem from performance or management issues. Workers may disagree with a new policy developed and implemented by management without their consult, and may wish to see it revoked. A similar situation would be a disagreement on the terms of an enterprise bargaining agreement. Employees, or a union representing them, may attempt to reach consensus with the management about the terms before a new enterprise agreement is implemented. Employers on the other hand, may face disputes with employees who breach contractual agreements or don’t meet performance targets.

Lastly, employers are increasingly being exposed for unjust labour practices. This can include unsafe working conditions, or discrepancies in workers’ compensation. For instance, workers can cite their employers for failing to provide appropriate safety equipment or training. Issues with the payment of superannuation contributions can also fuel disputes between employers and their staff, which can negatively affect the financial status of the company and initiate a conflict with the government for poor and non-compliant business practice.

At SHAW Arbitration, we work with you to address workplace and employment disputes between:

  • Co-workers
  • Management and staff
  • Unions
  • Governing bodies

The disputes might concern any of the following:

  • Discrimination, harassment, bullying, sexism, racism, LGBT rights
  • Cultural differences/vilification
  • Unfair dismissal
  • Performance issues
  • Management issues
  • Change of contract terms without proper consultation/enterprise bargaining
  • Breach of contract
  • Workers compensation
  • Workplace injury or trauma
  • Workplace safety
  • Salary and wages
  • Taxation and superannuation

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Alison Shaw of SHAW Mediation successfully mediated a contract and building works dispute for one of our clients.  I found the mediation to be useful in requiring the disputing parties to be in one place at one time, allowing each side to express their position (and even vent their frustrations) whilst being kept in line by an experienced mediator. It was by no means certain to me beforehand that the matter would resolve at the mediation, but Alison’s guidance and systematic approach facilitated a commercial settlement.  I am confident the parties would not have reached a better outcome if they had gone to court.  I rate highly the mediation process used by Alison Shaw in this matter, and would recommend her to other clients considering mediation in the future.

Matthew Hawke

Cowell Clarke