We live in a confrontational society and conflict within the workforce is inevitable. Today's society is compromised of diverse people working together towards accomplishing the same common goal. Whether it is differences in sex, age, race, etc… peoples values, morals, and methods for performing tasks are going to differ from others whom they are working with, resulting in conflict. Confrontation is expected, and society has developed many methods to deal with the conflict that exist within the workforce (Gulliver, 1998).
The outlandish price and slow moving process of legal system is a direct result of the increased demand for the service. However, the sky rocketing prices and the lengthy process forced people to develop alternate solutions for dealing with issues of conflict. Alternate Dispute Resolutions (ADR) provides three widely accepted methods for solving issues outside of the courts. The three different forms of ADR are: Negotiation Settlement, Mediation and Arbitration. Overall, ADR expedites the resolution process and solves the issue behind close doors, out of the public's eye (Gulliver, 1998).
In 2003, my place of work solved a confrontational issue using the Negotiation Settlement method of ADR. Negotiation Settlement is where both parties voluntary agree upon the damages incurred and the method used to resolve the issue. This is a cheap and rational method used to solve issues as quickly and quietly as possible. My boss and the employee who was confronted with a conflict at work both agreed that there was a problem and that it did need to be resolved. The first stage of resolving the conflict required each person to decide on his or her position (Gulliver, 1998).
To begin with, the waiter stated that he was hired as a server 10 months ago and has been paid server wage, which is below the national minimum wage, for the entire 10 months that he has worked there. He than illustrated that he has worked X amount of hours and has served one table. Servers are paid a lower wage; because they make tips which are suppose to compensate for the lower wage. However, each night the man works he hears the same story that the restaurant is too busy for a server to spend time training him.
Instead of learning how to wait tables he is asked to bus tables, run food and do the dishes. The man maintained optimistic because the restaurant is a posh fine dinning place to eat and he knew that it would be worth his time to wait for the training. However, after ten full months of the same routine the man feels that the company has taken advantage of him and he wants to be compensated for the work he has done for the company. He believes that the company should pay him the difference in wages between the servers and bus-boy's wage for all the hours he has previously worked.
Furthermore, he would like to receive a tip out amount for all the nights he has worked because the other bus-boys receive a certain percentage from each server each night they work. The boss of the company believes that truly his management actions were not ethical and he realizes that the man has been taken advantage of. However, the man did not have the necessary skills required to serve the tables and he did agree to a one month training process. The boss apologizes for his staff not being able to find the time to train him.
He feels that the man should have shadowed his trainer and not been pushed to do other work that he was not responsible for. Furthermore, the boss agrees that the man has been paid unfairly for his work and he is going to pay him the difference between the server and bus-boy's wage for all X amount of hours he has worked. However, the boss does not feel that he is able to pay the man the tip out because there is no way he could ask his servers to go back ten months of their individual sales and tip the proper percent for each night that one of them worked the same shift as the man.
He felt that he could not ask this of his staff as it was too time consuming and not fair. He said he was sorry that the man did not receive his deserved tip out percentage, but he was unable to meet this part of the man's demand. The man's rebuttal stated that he agreed it would not be fair to ask his fellow employees to gather a large sum of money at a short time and work overtime to do so. However, the man still felt that he was entitled to the money.
He asked his boss to increase the bus-boy wage by X amount of dollars for the time that he is being reimbursed and the increased difference between wages could compensate for the tips he did not receive. The boss felt that the requested X amount of dollar increase was too much. However, he did like the idea and he offered to increase the bus-boy wage amount by Y. Both parties agreed that this was the best alternate solution. The conflict was settled outside of court and both parties felt pleased with the final decision.
I feel that if the case had gone to the courts the courts would have forced the company to pay the man the proper wage for the work he incurred while working for the restaurant. Moreover, the man could have waited a year or more for the courts to make this decision. The negotiation settlement enabled the man to have the money in his hands in timely manner. The man was content knowing that he was being paid what he deserved. On the other hand, the boss was pleased that the issue did not have to go to the courts. This would have cost the company more money and more time to solve the issue.
In addition, the courts could have publicized the information and than the restaurant's customer base may have been jeopardized. In the long run, the public scrutiny would have cost the business much more money than the business will pay to compensate the man. The settlement of this issue was handled with finesse. The boss recognized his company's unfair treatment of the man. Both parties were willing to communicate and work together to resolve the issue at hand. The conflict was resolved as effectively and efficiently as possible without involving other people.
ADR worked in my company's and the servers favor. I highly recommend trying to resolve issues using ADR prior to going to court. The vast majority of cases can be resolved without having to go through the litigation process. ADR can save you time, money and additional stress.
References: P. H. Gulliver, Disputes and Negotiations: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (New York: Academic, 1979); Louis Kriesberg, Constructive Conflicts: From Escalation to Settlement. (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998), 291-5.