What happens when COVID shuts civil courts?

By RONALD D. WHITE STAFF WRITER SEP. 11, 2020 | Los Angeles Times

It was a question of what would happen first for the Los Angeles hotel owner whose business had been decimated by the coronavirus lockdown: a financial settlement with the angry employees he had fired — or bankruptcy.

Across town, a Black man wanted to fight his recent termination, contending it was because of racial discrimination not a coronavirus-related business downturn. In another case, a woman suddenly out of work was ready to accuse her boss of using pandemic layoffs to cover up his sexual harassment.

Employers were wrangling with workers claiming extended paid sick leave when they hadn’t provided proof that they had contracted COVID-19. And former employees were asserting that bosses were using pandemic business losses as an excuse to settle scores and selectively fire those they considered difficult.

All are real examples from the last six months — with names and details removed to protect client privacy — that employment lawyers, mediators and arbitrators cite for why they are more busy than ever since coronavirus protection measures upended workplaces and left California courthouses largely empty.

But having to rely on mediation and arbitration to resolve cases has left many people in a terrible position, consumer and personal injury attorneys say, contending that such alternative dispute resolution favors corporations and employers.

Civil trials, particularly in the largest counties, have been postponed, perhaps for months, leaving employment and other disputes in limbo.

Read more at: https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-09-11/covid-shuts-courts-mediation-arbitration-boom.