It is usually a good idea to have an experienced attorney handle your case for a number of reasons. Among those reasons is that certain claims have procedural deadlines that need to be met in order to preserve your legal rights. It can also help your claim to be taken more seriously when you are being represented.
I have participated in these mediations before. Sometimes I thought it was a good idea to have a lawyer and sometimes I thought it was a complete waste of time and money. I would need to hear more about your specific fact situation to advise you whether it would be worth bringing a lawyer.
You have some reasonable accommodation issues. These can be a little tricky. It is different than WC and different from being disabled. It would be worth your while to h ave an attorney with you. Good luck.
I agree with Ms. Pitt. It sounds like you have a disability as defined by California law (the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing) and the ADA. Under both laws, you are probably entitled to reasonable accommodation due to your disability. A reasonable accommodation is a change in the way work is accomplished so that the employee with a disability is able to do his or her job. This change may include transferring some duties to other employees.
Mediation can be an excellent way to resolve a workplace dispute, or it can be a sham. It depends on several factors.
First, who is the mediator? If it is an employee of the Department of Public Social Services, of course that person is not a neutral, and most likely his or her job is to keep the employer out of trouble – regardless of whatever you are told. Still, keeping the employer out of trouble can mean making sure it follows the law, and making sure it follows the law means providing you with the reasonable accommodation you deserve. But as an employee without any experience in this area of law, you may not be able to determine if the mediator is presenting the situation accurately.
Second, know that although mediation is informal, it only happens when there are opposing positions. That's what mediation is – a facilitated discussion between or among opposing parties, where the mediator tries to helps the parties reach a resolution to a dispute. In your case, your opposing party will be your employer. For many employees, it is hard for them to be as assertive as they need to be when they are still employed and dependent on the employer/opposing party for their livelihood. For this reason, many employees obtain representation for the mediation.
Third, unless you know the law – your legal rights, time limits for legal action, what the case law says – you are severely disadvantaged without having an attorney. Your employer may bring its attorney to the mediation, but even if it doesn't, most certainly whoever shows up on behalf of the employer will have been prepared by an attorney, or by someone else who was prepared or trained by an attorney. Without counsel, you are far less likely to end up with a result that fully addresses your legal rights.
With that in mind, I I urge you to consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys with whom you can discuss the details of your situation. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
@MikaSpencer * * * twitter.com/MikaSpencer * * * PLEASE READ: All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. * * * No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis.