Workplace mediation in California is often a good way to resolve legal problems in the workplace without going to trial, saving money and time. Avoiding a court case can be beneficial for everyone involved. In addition, there are strong confidentiality protections for participants in workplace mediation, and courts are very careful about doing anything to compromise that.
Confidentiality protects participants
The proceedings and participants in mediation are not public records. If the case winds up in a settlement, the participants often want the settlement and the case itself to be off the record, so the proceedings that lead to the mediation should also be confidential. This also protects the participants from retaliation and other unethical behavior that might come from the negotiations.
There are only a few special circumstances in which this confidentiality can be breached by the court. For example, if there might be a referral for criminal proceedings, or if there is a possibility that fraud was involved in reaching the terms of the mediated settlement, a judge can potentially remove some of the confidentiality. This is limited power and is only to be used in special conditions because the precedent and rules for protecting the participants in mediation are very strong.
There can sometimes be a careful balance between protecting the confidentiality of all the parties in mediation and serious criminal activity that the confidentiality might cover-up. If you participate in workplace mediation, it is important to know what protections you have and what conditions there are that might potentially erode that protection if the judge winds up pursuing that route for one of the allowed reasons.