Sexual harassment continues to be a hotbed issue in the news and the workplace. One recent and highly publicized example of a personal relationship that spiraled into a sexual harassment dispute is the case of Tiger Woods and his ex-girlfriend, Erica Herman, who began as employee of Woods’ golf empire.
After their split, Herman sued Woods for sexual harassment and Woods responded to the suit stating that Herman’s public filing of her claim in civil court violated the terms of their non-disclosure agreement. As discussed in my previous blogs, the status of non-disclosure agreements in the law have been in flux as of recent and for the most part, have been invalidated or heavily minimized by federal and state courts and such governmental agencies as the National Labor Relations Board in recent years.
Get the details on the recent case between Woods and Herman, before diving into my suggestions for mediating sexual harassment cases.
A Quick Recap of the Woods Case
Tiger Woods, the legendary golfer who needs no introduction, recently won a legal battle against his ex-girlfriend Erica Herman, who aimed to break their non-disclosure agreement and speak publicly about their relationship. However a Florida judge ruled that her lawsuits had to be resolved in private arbitration, rather than open court.
The former couple dated for nearly six years and signed an NDA regarding their relationship in 2017. Herman sued Woods for over $30 million in 2022, claiming that he broke oral contracts and forced her out of his house. A year later, she sued to invalidate the NDA on the grounds that Woods sexually harassed her, and that the NDA violated two new federal laws that protected victims of sexual misconduct from being silenced.
Herman’s arguments were dismissed, with the NDA being validated – and since Herman failed to provide factual details or evidence to support her allegations against Woods, she was ordered to proceed with arbitration, putting the suit on hold until arbitration concluded and keeping Woods’ private affairs out of the public eye.
While the ruling is a victory for Woods, it’s a setback for Herman – as she lost her chance to tell her story to the public and challenge the NDA under new federal laws.
My Tips for Mediating Sexual Harassment Cases
As an employment and Title IX mediator, and former employment and and certified Title IX investigator, I’ve dealt with a large number of sexual harassment cases. What I’ve found is that mediation can be especially effective in resolving such matters, giving each party the opportunity to form a mutually acceptable settlement. If you’re entering mediation sessions for a sexual harassment case, here are my tips for a quick resolution:
Prepare Your Materials
All parties to the mediation should come prepared. Before walking into your session, take some time to gather and organize any relevant information. Emails, text messages, witness statements – any evidence pertaining to the case. By taking a few extra steps to prepare, you can present a strong case or counter defense and negotiate more effectively once the session starts.
Clarify Your Goals
Spell out your negotiation goals ahead of time, be it monetary compensation, legal action, both, or other remedies. Understanding your interests will guide your negotiation strategy, boosting the likelihood of reaching a settlement that accomplishes your goals.
Once mediation begins, remaining professional and respectful is a top priority. Every participant, including the other party, their attorney, and the mediator, should be treated with the utmost courtesy to retain a cooperative atmosphere that’s free of unproductive negativity.
In any mediation session, open and honest communication is key to a faster settlement. When you clearly state your concerns, needs, and expectations to the other party, they more easily understand, rather than talking in circles and making little progress. Practice patient listening and write down your mental responses, rather than cutting the other party off or simply waiting to speak. This will keep you focused on their responses rather than your next statement.
Choose a Skilled & Neutral Mediator
The right or wrong mediator can make or break your sessions. Look for a mediator with specialized expertise in sexual harassment cases, along with a reputation for neutrality and can assist the parties in reaching a desirable settlement and outcome.
Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal, and Media Commentator
Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues. Furthermore, she’s been named a “Top 50 Woman Attorney” in California by Super Lawyers, a “Top California Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal, and one of Los Angeles’ “Most Influential Minority and Women Attorneys” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.
Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Signature Resolution, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram @iamangelareddockwright, LinkedIn at Linkedin.com/in/angelareddock, and tune in to my weekly radio show, KBLA Talk 1580’s Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright each Saturday and Sunday at 11 am PST, or catch past episodes on Anchor.fm/Spotify. You can learn more about the radio show here – https://angelareddock-wright.com/radio-show/.
Also, learn more about my book – The Workplace Transformed: 7 Crucial Lessons from the Global Pandemic – here – https://angelareddock-wright.com/book/.
For media inquiries, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with Angela on LinkedIn for new updates or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.
This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.