CPR Launches New Administered Employment Arbitration Rules and Updates Its Employment-Related Mass Claims Protocol

The International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR) has launched its first set of Administered Employment Arbitration Rules and updated its Employment-Related Mass Claims Protocol. 

The just-released 2021 Administered Employment Arbitration Rules (Employment Rules) incorporate many innovations from CPR’s 2019 Administered Arbitration Rules, and reflect the collaboration of counsel from the plaintiff’s bar, in-house employment counsel, corporate defense attorneys, and neutrals who contributed to their creation. 

CPR recognizes that employment disputes and employment arbitration programs differ from commercial arbitration in important ways. Among other things, employment arbitration agreements, programs, and procedures must ensure that the interests of individual workers, who as a practical matter often do not negotiate their terms, are adequately protected.

The new CPR Employment Rules give significant attention to due process concerns (described in more detail below), which are vital for individuals subject to mandatory arbitration programs.  These rules are an especially welcome contribution to the field, given the increasing frequency with which employment-related disputes are being arbitrated. (Alexander J.S. Colvin, “The growing use of mandatory arbitration,” Economic Policy Institute (April 6, 2018) (noting that 53.9 percent of nonunion private-sector employers now have mandatory employment arbitration procedures, and that percentage climbs to 65.1 percent among companies with 1,000 or more employees).

The following are some of the distinguishing features of the newly launched CPR Employment Rules:

  • Rule 1.4 (Due Process Protections):  Demonstrating the fundamental importance that CPR places on fairness to all parties, including in particular employees and individuals who may be subject to mandatory arbitration programs, CPR incorporates its Due Process Protections directly in the Rules at their outset. The provision is detailed, providing employers better guidance on when and how CPR will apply the due process requirements.
  • Rules 3.12-3.13 (joinder and consolidation, respectively): CPR has created an innovative procedure that uses an Administrative Arbitrator to address issues of joinder and consolidation when they arise prior to selection of an arbitrator, identifies factors to be considered, and makes clear that neither joinder nor consolidation is permitted if prohibited by the applicable arbitration agreement.
  • Rules 5-6 (selection of arbitrator): CPR’s Employment Rules provide for arbitration by a single arbitrator selected by the parties from a list using striking and ranking as the default procedure (like other employment arbitration providers); however, CPR’s Employment Rules also offer parties a variety of other options for arbitrator selection should they wish to innovate in this area, including allowing parties to propose arbitrators to be included on the slates for nomination or to use CPR’s unique screened selection process for three-arbitrator tribunals.
  • Rule 12.2(c) (hearings): Given the experiences gained during the Covid-19 pandemic, CPR’s Employment Rules make clear that an arbitrator may order remote hearings and provide factors to be considered in making this determination.
  • Rule 14 (emergency measures by emergency arbitrator): Clarifying a matter than can be ambiguous under other providers’ rules, CPR’s Employment Rules provide that their emergency procedures will apply automatically unless parties expressly agree they do not; at the same time, the emergency procedures are not exclusive, and parties still have the choice of going to court for emergency relief.
  • Rules 17 and 18 (administrative and arbitrator fees): CPR’s Employment Rules, consistent with most state law and with the Due Process Protections, provide that employers are generally required to pay arbitration fees but that the arbitrator has authority in appropriate cases to shift fees to the same extent a court would be able to do so. In addition, to address a matter that has become more commonly litigated, CPR’s Employment Rules set out detailed guidance to address cases where a party has refused to pay required fees to provide clarity on preserving the rights of the non-defaulting party.
  • Rule 20 (confidentiality): CPR’s Employment Rules provide that CPR and the arbitrator must maintain confidentiality. But, consistent with developing case law, these rules do not impose confidentiality by rule upon the parties. The arbitrator has the same authority as a court to issue confidentiality orders to protect evidence/discovery.
  • CPR’s Employment Rules are specifically designed to avoid ambiguity and disputes over the interpretation of the rules.

The fee structure for the administration under the Employment Rules can be found HERE.

CPR also is updating the Employment-Related Mass Claims Protocol (ERMCP), which it first launched in November of 2019.  The Protocol provides an innovative mechanism for the more efficient and effective resolution of a mass of employment-related cases.  The ERMCP now incorporates CPR’s newly launched Employment Rules as the default rules that will govern arbitrations under the Protocol.

In addition, and in an effort to provide better clarity around the procedures under the Protocol, and with the guidance from a task force of leading counsel from the plaintiff’s bar, in-house employment counsel, corporate defense attorneys, and neutrals, the updated ERMCP also:

  • clarifies the documents that need to be filed to commence the arbitrations;
  • clarifies certain timelines for triggering events, including payment deadlines;
  • specifies the kinds of grounds for challenging an arbitrator’s independence or impartiality (such as provided in the Employment Rules);
  • defines basic terms to avoid ambiguity, such as “Commencement Date,” the “Employment Mass Claims Panel,” the “CPR Panel of Distinguished Neutrals,” and a “Final Written Reasoned Award;”
  • provides greater details for how the Mediation Process will work;
  • expands the role of the Administrative Arbitrator to assist the parties in expediting the proceedings and reaching a resolution;
  • reinforces the option of the parties to resolve their cases at any point in time even apart from the Mediation Process; and
  • clarifies the authority of the arbitrator to order a remote proceeding so long as taking measures to ensure the remote proceedings remain fair.

Please also see the FAQs accompanying this revised version.

To make administration of the Protocol more cost-effective, the fee structure for the Protocol has also been modified based on efficiencies that can be achieved.  CPR still requests that any party contemplating inclusion of the Protocol in its dispute resolution program discuss the Initiation Fee with CPR both to scope out the size of any matter and to ensure there is compliance with CPR’s Due Process Protections and other guidance.

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