When people think of wage disputes or violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), they often imagine that such cases will go to trial where a judge will decide the case.

The thought of a courtroom trial may appeal to people looking for a dramatic sense of justice. Or, it could intimidate people to such an extent that they shy away from calling out potentially unlawful actions. In either case, it is important to understand that many of these cases do not ultimately go to trial.

Arbitration and mediation

Often, parties engaged in a dispute over wages or hours resolve the conflict utilizing alternatives to litigation. These include arbitration and mediation.

Both options involve more cooperative efforts to resolve an issue. In mediation, parties work together to reach an agreement. In arbitration, parties present their respective cases to an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators who will make the decision.

Settlements

Parties can also reach settlements before a trial. For instance, a class action settlement was recently proposed by parties involved in a dispute over overtime wages. In that case, parking production assistants claimed that CBS Television Studios owed them overtime in accordance with the FLSA and New York laws.

A judge approved the $9.97 million settlement, stating that it was substantively fair and ensures workers will receive 100 percent of the overtime damages they were seeking.

Securing a settlement before a trial can be quite common, as parties may be more willing to negotiate to avoid the risks that can come with litigation. Reaching an agreement also allows parties to retain more control over the outcome.

Understanding the legal options

Whether the idea of a trial excites or intimidates you, you should understand the reality of your legal options if you have a case involving FLSA violations. Getting the facts about the process from an attorney and familiarizing yourself with the potential remedies can allow you to make informed decisions that help you seek a fair outcome.