Rules of Evidence in Labor Arbitration- Chapter 10 - AAA Handbook on Labor Arbitration & ADR, 3rd Edition
Michael S. Winograd
Michael S. Winograd is Counsel with Ropes & Gray LLP and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham Law School. The author conveys special thanks to Professor Robert A. Gorman for his guidance and insight and to Ms. Siobhan M. Crann, Mr. Lucas A. Bathurst, Hd.E, Mr. Curly G. Neale, and Lt. Christopher A. Shine for their collective advice and support.
Most, if not all, would agree that labor arbitration is an adjudicatory process. Despite the informalities and the sometimes unique interests that help govern, and often dictate, the course of its development, labor arbitration is a form of dispute resolution in the purest sense of the concept. At its core, labor arbitration involves the finding of disputed facts and/or the interpretation of mutual agreements, and, ultimately, the handing down of a decision.
Although the evolution of labor arbitration stems, as does that of any formal judicial forum, from an effort to systematically resolve disputes, its goals and nature remain markedly distinct. Where courts have found that efficacy lies in the rigid adherence to formal evidentiary laws, a traditionally accepted “legal premise [of] . . . labor arbitration . . . is that ‘rules of evidence . . . need not be observed’. . . unless the parties have mutually agreed to the contrary.”
This chapter explores the validity of this well-established tenet of labor arbitration by considering what, if any, the role of external evidentiary law should be in seeking to maximize the efficacy of labor arbitrations.