Determining the Most Beneficial Options for a Dental Practice Owner to Handle an Employment Dispute


     The dental attorneys at Nardone Limited in Columbus, Ohio want to ensure our clients execute the proper employment agreements, so the interests of their dental practices are protected. Specifically, we want to protect our dental practice clients from liability that arises from potential employment disputes. As part of managing a successful dental practice, most dental practice owners will likely go through the process of hiring new employees. One main aspect of the hiring process is the employment agreement, and specifically, whether the dental practice owner should include a dispute resolution provision, such as an arbitration provision, in the employment agreement.

Mandatory Arbitration Provisions May Not Be the Best Option for Your Business

     Based on the recent Supreme Court decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis, many dental practice owners have questions regarding whether they should include a mandatory arbitration provision in their employment agreements. Generally, arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution, which resolves a dispute outside of court. Typically, the dispute will be decided by a panel of two or three arbitrators. The decision of the arbitration panel is legally binding on both parties and is enforceable with the court. But, arbitration can be expensive for all parties involved and, for a small business such as a dental practice, arbitration is usually not the most beneficial way to resolve a dispute. Thus, even though the Supreme Court decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis is viewed as beneficial to employers, it unfortunately does not benefit all employers and businesses. Overall, the attorneys at Nardone Limited do not recommend that dental practices include mandatory arbitration provisions in their employment agreements. But, determining whether a mandatory arbitration provision makes sense will depend on each dental practice’s facts and circumstances.

Other Dispute Resolution Options

     There are other ways to resolve a dispute outside of arbitration. Below are some other options dental practices can use to resolve a dispute:

  1. Mediation. One option to resolve a dispute is through mediation. Mediation is a form of settlement negotiation that is facilitated by a neutral third party. Mediation tends to be a cheaper alternative to arbitration and allows the parties to negotiate a settlement and resolve the dispute outside of court. Also, the mediator does not render a legally binding decision, and, there is no harm if the parties do not reach a settlement agreement. Therefore, having a mediation provision included in an employment agreement might be a more beneficial option for dental practice owners. Also, if the mediation does not reach an agreement, both parties have the option of filing the dispute with the court and working the case through the legal system.

  1. Not Including Any Dispute Resolution Provision in the Employment Agreement. Another option is for dental practices to simply stay silent and to not include any dispute resolution provision in the employment agreement. Staying silent will allow the parties to use litigation to resolve any disputes. Litigation is sometimes the best option and can force a settlement or resolution quicker and easier than other forms of dispute resolution.

  1. Prevailing Party Clause. If the dental practice chooses to remain silent and to not include a dispute resolution provision, the dental practice can include a “prevailing party clause” within their employment agreements. This clause will state that if any litigation is brought by either party, the prevailing party is entitled to receive the attorney fees incurred during the litigation. Thus, the dental practice, if successful in the litigation, will receive the amount of the judgment from the court, and also the attorney fees they incurred.

     As previously stated, the dental attorneys at Nardone Limited recommend that our dental clients scrutinize the decision regarding whether or not mandatory arbitration is appropriate by taking into consideration the overall facts and circumstances.  And again, there are other options to consider for a dispute, which will depend on the dental practice, specific employee, and the terms of the employment agreement. The attorneys at Nardone Limited are well-versed in dispute resolution options and are able to help you determine the best procedure for handling an employment dispute.

Contact Nardone Limited

     If your dental practice has questions about employment agreements and the language that should be included in employment agreements, contact the attorneys at Nardone Limited. The dental attorneys at Nardone Limited are well versed in employment agreements and arbitration provisions. The dental attorneys at Nardone Limited can also handle a full spectrum of employment law issues, including employment disputes and litigation, drafting employment agreements and restrictive covenants, and consultation on employment law issues. If you need advice or representation in an employment dispute before the EEOC, the OCRC, or regarding potential labor and employment litigation, feel free to contact Nardone Limited.