Stephanie Mencimer jumps on the Jamie Leigh Jones bandwagon against arbitration (Dec. 12, Dec. 20) and carefully makes a misleading case:
Employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees testified before Congress in October that AAA data show that between January 2003 and March 31, 2007, of the 39 Halliburton cases that went all the way to a decision, Halliburton won 32, a win rate of 82 percent. Plaintiffs in employment litigation face a high bar in court trials as well, but even so, that figure is very high. Employers win about 64 percent of all employment cases at trial in federal court and about half in state court, according to data from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
The problem here is that this is apples and oranges: the 32 arbitration cases include cases that are dismissed on summary judgment, whereas the employment discrimination trials (which constitute well under 10% of all employment discrimination claims brought in court) necessarily omit the decisions where the plaintiffs lost on summary judgment. Moreover, it excludes the 96% of cases submitted to ADR that do not result in a full-fledged arbitration because the employee received a favorable result in mediation. (And that’s before we get to the fact that an arbitration decision is final, while the BJS statistics have no follow-up to see what happens on appeal to those larger plaintiff victories.) As multiple studies show, the typical employment plaintiff does far better in arbitration than in court, for far less expense.
Mencimer also repeats the canard that arbitration is problematic because it is “secretive,” though her ability to retell the case of Jamie Jones refutes that. I also note that earlier this week, I sent a request to Jones’s attorney, Todd Kelly, for a copy of her arbitration filings. (Recall that Jones moved for summary judgment in the arbitration, and only filed in court after helping to choose an arbitrator and spending fifteen months of discovery litigating the arbitration.) He hasn’t responded. If Jones’s arbitration is secret, it’s because she has chosen to make it so.