If you’ve ever interacted with either the civil or criminal justice system, you likely walked away from the experience thinking it was nothing like you expected. For women, men and non-binary folx who have been harmed, seeking recourse and ‘to be made whole’ by compensation through the finding of fault within the justice system is often a painful and lengthy process. And it’s one that doesn’t always or often result in the desired outcome.
The concept of restorative justice is an alternative to the traditional legal system. Restorative justice was first used in the criminal justice system. It started as a way to reconcile the act of the crime committed and the harm to the victim with reconciliation for the victim and rehabilitation for the offender. While it began with criminal law, restorative justice is an equally important option in the case of employment law issues, such as discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, sexual assault and other employment and business disputes.
Why Haven’t I Heard of Restorative Justice?
When you are harmed by your employer, you have a multitude of options available. Some options are within the legal system – pre-litigation mediation and employment litigation for example – and some are outside the formal legal system. Most attorneys aren’t willing to discuss or are unfamiliar with restorative justice because it’s not as common and is difficult to work in the typical contingency-based employment practices.
There are immense benefits to consider restorative justice as an employment violation alternative, especially if you wish to remain at your place of employment and seek to address the current workplace situation so that it is improved for others. Even if you do not wish to stay at your workplace or have already left due to the discrimination, harassment, hostile environment or assault you experienced, restorative justice has benefits, including:
- An empowering process that allows you to directly address the person, culture, etc that harmed you in the workplace;
- A limit on the information gathering surrounding your allegations and therefore less time to seek resolution or redress with restorative justice;
- Your employer is not likely to be hostile in discussions because restorative justice isn’t about allocating fault and assessing dollar values for the harm;
- You will be able to collaboratively set ground rules for any discussions, rather than the court or a mediator.
Benefits of restorative justice may also allow you to more quickly more forward, although all results and outcomes vary and there are no guarantees. It’s a personal choice to be considered alongside all other legal and non-legal options after you’ve experienced harm, discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
Knowing that the formal legal process can be a very difficult experience for a plaintiff alleging employment law violations is a serious consideration. It’s important to know all available options before you decide what is best for you. That’s what why we put client’s first at MJSB Employment Justice – no matter what you choose, we will be by your side to advocate for you.
For restorative justice to work in your situation, you’ll want to work an attorney committed to the process and one willing to go outside the traditional legal process. To better understand if restorative justice is a good fit for you, contact MJSB.
MJSB Employment Justice is a collaborative, client-focused law firm. You can trust MJSB’s advocates and attorneys to provide outstanding legal counsel on employee issues, such as sex harassment and discrimination and non-profit and business law.