About Harassment Discrimination Wrongful Termination Unpaid Wages Improper Benefits

Court Documents

Many employers tout the benefits of arbitration -- they claim it is a quick and easy process that frees up the crowed court system to speedily bring justice to the case. However, by "justice," they mean that they win. As soon as they lose, they are in court asking the judge to overturn the arbitration award. This lawsuit is an example of how ConocoPhillips only likes arbitration when it wins.

The essential allegations are that an employee was suspended for two days. The employee grieved the suspension and the arbitrator ruled in the employee's favor, essentially saying that ConocoPhillips did not have "just cause" to warrant a two day suspension. The arbitrator reduced the discipline to a written warning.

In their motion to overturn the arbitration award, ConocoPhillips was not touting the benefits of arbitration. Instead they were arguing that despite arbitration, "Courts still maintain a significant role in the labor arbitration process." Of course, they fail to state what the purpose of arbitration would be if every time someone loses, they simply ask the court to hear the case again. They then argue that the arbitrator "exceeded his authority" in finding for the employee. Apparently, ConocoPhillips was arguing that the only legitimate decision that the arbitrator could have found was one in favor of ConocoPhillips.

Fortunately, the Court ruled otherwise. While the Judge did note that the process for progression discipline outlined by the arbitrator was only illustrative and not mandatory, the Court still upheld the award. As noted in my blog, employers generally favor arbitration until they get ruled against.

Of course, it should be noted that ConocoPhillips went through all the time and express of filing this case in federal court over a two day suspension of a blue collar employee. It is difficult to imagine what lengths they might go through for an unfavorable arbitration award in a high value sexual harassment or discrimination case.

©2010 Michael Tracy

All statements made with reference to a lawsuit only refer to the allegations made in the lawsuit. Allegations made in a complaint are simply what one party contends is true until the issue is determined by the court. This website only provides general information about publicly filed lawsuits and is not meant to be legal advice and does not serve to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any statements, on this page or elsewhere, are not guarantees of any outcome. Michael Tracy is a licensed attorney only in California. Law Offices of Michael Tracy, 2030 Main St. STE 1300, Irvine,CA 1-866-GOTOVETIME