On September 10, 2007, the American Arbitration Association added Richard Seymour to its roster of Commercial Arbitrators and its roster of Employment Panel arbitrators. As a result, he is now available to arbitrate cases under the AAA Commercial Rules and under its Employment Rules.
Here are some of the obvious questions and his perhaps less obvious answers:
Answer: I’ve been representing plaintiffs in individual cases and class actions, and have sometimes been aligned with employers defending affirmative action, for almost 38 years since I left the government. In that time, I’ve had some class cases that took more than 20 to 25 years to resolve. I’ve had some individual cases that took three or more years to resolve. I read a lot of appellate cases for the book I do for the American Bar Association, and have seen individual cases take ten or more years to resolve through appeals and remands to the trial court, and retrials and new appeals and new remands to the trial court, and on and on.
Many cases take less time to resolve, but still take a lot of time. The average case takes about a year to resolve in the Federal trial courts, but an appeal can add a year or two and a substantial number of appeals now result in new proceedings in the trial court.
That amount of time sounds bad in the abstract, but for some cases is even worse than it sounds. Delay eats away at the plaintiff in the dispute, and occupies the time of managers for far too long. If there are any lessons to be learned about doing things differently, the lessons are taught too late to avoid the same kinds of mistakes from happening during the years the lawsuit is alive.
Some disputes involve issues that should be resolved in public, with judges and juries. Some disputes need to be resolved in a way that sets a clear standard for everyone’s conduct, so those parties and many others can guide their conduct by the result.
For ordinary disputes that just need to get resolved, however, the speed of reaching a just outcome is very important.
Question: You’re on record as opposing mandatory arbitration required as a condition of employment or of purchasing a consumer product. How do you reconcile that with becoming an arbitrator?
Answer: The courts enforce such clauses, so it is important that there be balanced panels of arbitrators to resolve the disputes. In addition, I think the future of arbitration is best assured if all sides come to see it — for at least some types of cases — as faster and cheaper than litigation while being at least as just. I would like to help bring that about.
Question: But why you?
Answer: If close to four decades at the bar have taught me anything, it is how to get to the essential parts of a case fairly quickly. If my activities with the American Bar Association, my co-authorship with defense lawyers, my occasional service as a mediator, and my shaping complex consent decrees with opposing counsel have taught me anything, it is how to understand the perspectives of both sides, and how to see both sides of an argument.
In addition, I think the experience will be enjoyable.
Question: Enjoyable for whom?
Answer: The goal would be to make it as enjoyable as possible for all the participants, given that there is a real dispute that has to be resolved. Attorneys will immediately recognize what I’m saying. Some judges have great judicial demeanor, and leave everyone who has appeared before them — parties, witnesses, and counsel — feeling valued and listened to, and feeling that their side received a “fair shake.” The sting of a loss is much less when administered by that kind of person. I know some arbitrators who I think do the same, and that’s the model I want to follow.
Question: Why the American Arbitration Association in particular?
Answer: Two reasons. First, I really want there to be a buffer between me and any counsel or party to an arbitration. The AAA case managers provide that buffer for communications and financial matters.
Second, last February I went through the Commercial Arbitrator training offered by the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution. We spent three days largely going through the American Bar Association’s Commercial Rules, with some time on the Employment Rules. I was impressed by their usefulness.
Before going through that training, I had been thinking of a number of arbitration providers. After the training and further research, I thought the AAA would be the best match.
Question: Are you available to arbitrate anywhere?
Answer: Yes. If the parties want me in particular and jointly request me, I am willing to travel.
Question: Minnesota in December? Alaska in January? Texas in August?
Answer: Yes (gulp).
Question: Are you going to continue to represent employees and executives?
Answer: Certainly. That part of my practice is much too enjoyable to think of leaving it. In addition, I think that continuing to practice will help keep me current.
Question: Do you have a short resume?
Answer: See below. More information can be found on my web site:
Question: How does one contact the AAA?
Answer: The web site of the American Arbitration Association is
. The site contains a lot of information, including contact information.
RESUME OF RICHARD SEYMOUR
LAW OFFICE OF RICHARD T. SEYMOUR, P.L.L.C.
1150 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20036-4129
E-Mail: [email protected]
Voice: 202-862-4320 Fax: 800-805-1065 Cell: 202-549-1454
Curriculum Vitae of Richard T. Seymour
A.B., Aquinas College, 1965
J.D., Harvard University, 1968
Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association, Lawyer of the Year 2007
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Edwin Wolf Award
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Houston Chapter, Int’l Association of Black Professional Firefighters
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Board of Directors, 2006-present; former member, Board of Trustees
College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Board of Governors, 1996-2002; Fellow
American Bar Association, Section of Labor and Employment Law (former member of governing Council; currently elected Liaison to ABA for Governance) [Note: I was elected Vice-Chair from 2008 to 2010, and in August 2010 I was elected Chair-Elect.]
American Association for Justice (formerly ATLA):
Elected officer, then Chair, Employment Rights Section, 2003-2004
Elected Vice-Chair, Section Leaders Council, 2003-2004
Elected Chair, Section Leaders Council, 2004-2005
American Bar Association, Presidential Appointment, Class Action Task Force, 2002-2004
American Association for Justice (formerly ATLA), Presidential Appointments:
Vice-Chair, Section and Litigation Group Coordination Committee, 2004-2005
Chair, Section and Litigation Group Coordination Committee, 2005-2006, 2006-2007, and 2007-2008
Member, Section and Litigation Group Coordination Committee, 2004-2010
Other Bar Positions:
Plaintiffs’ Co-Chair, ABA Labor and Employment Law Section CLE Committee, 1995-1998
Plaintiffs’ Co-Chair, Annual Meeting Committee of CLE Committee, ABA Labor and Employment Law Section, 1994-1995
Plaintiff’s Co-Chair, Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, 1991-1994
Former member, ABA Labor and Employment Law Section Task Force on Providing Training to Incoming Federal Judicial Law Clerks
Former Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, 1991-1993
Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, P.L.L.C. , Washington, D.C., June 2005-present
(Class actions in employment law and collective wage & hour actions; individual cases; representation of executives)
Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Washington, D.C., Feb. 2001-May 2005 (Class actions in employment law and collective wage & hour actions)
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Director, Government Employment Project and then Employment Discrimination Project, Jan. 1977-Feb. 2001 (Class actions in employment law, and some individuals)
Solo practice, Oct. 1973-Jan. 1977 (Class actions in employment law)
Washington Research Project, Inc., staff attorney, Oct. 1969-Sept. 1973 (Class actions in employment law; school desegregation)
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Attorney, May 1968-Sept. 1969
Publications (partial list):
SEYMOUR & ASLIN, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE (Co-Author; formerly Seymour & Brown) (BNA, fourteen editions, 1996-2007, copyright American Bar Association, 1996-2007)
Pursuing Punitive Damages in Job Bias Cases, TRIAL (July 2002)
The Shrinking Door to Discovery, TRIAL (May 2001)
16 Summary Judgment Commandments, TRIAL (Dec. 2000)
Chapter, Monetary Relief, in Lindemann and Grossman, EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAW, 3D ED. (BNA)
Chapter, Mediating Class Actions: A Plaintiff Lawyer’s View, in Norman Brand, ed., HOW ADR WORKS (BNA, 2002).
The Loss of Predictability in EEO Litigation, and Further Questions to Be Resolved, in EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AFTER THE 1989 U.S. SUPREME COURT RULINGS (Prentice Hall, 1989)
Why Plaintiffs’ Counsel Challenge Tests, and How They can Successfully Challenge the Theory of Validity Generalization, 33 J. VOC. BEHAVIOR 331 (1988)
Other Organizations (partial list):
National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committee on the General Aptitude Test Battery (then member, Liaison Group) (Committee’s Report published as FAIRNESS IN EMPLOYMENT TESTING (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1989)
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (former Co-Chair, Employment Task Force)
Speaking (partial list):
ALI-ABA; ABA Sections of Labor and Employment Law, Business Law, and Trial, Tort & Insurance Law; Brookings Institution/American Enterprise Institute Conference for State Business Court Judges; National Employment Lawyers’ Association; Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers’ Association and various local plaintiffs’ bar groups; American Association of Justice Employment Rights Section; Federal Judicial Center/New York University Law School; Georgetown University Law Center; and particular Sections of Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, Connecticut, D.C., Florida, Houston, King County (Washington), Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin Bars
Sample Resolved Cases:
Sines v. Service Corp. Int’l (S.D. N.Y.) (class action under New York Labor Law and collective action under FLSA, enforcing the overtime rights of licensed funeral directors and other employees of defendants in funeral homes and support services in New York; $4.45 million settlement for back pay, liquidated damages, interest, fees, and costs)
Huneycutt v. Consolidated Freightways (C.D. Calif. Bankruptcy Court; S.D. Ind.) (Title VII gender discrimination class action estimated by settlement at $ 4 million and paid by settlement at 15% ($600,000) for women denied jobs as truck drivers)
Pegues v. Mississippi State Employment Service (N.D.Miss.) (first findings of classwide racial discrimination by any State Employment Service in the country against applicants seeking referrals to employers with jobs, first such findings of classwide sexual discrimination; $5.8 million litigated award to more than 700 claimants)
Sledge v. J.P. Stevens & Co. (E.D.N.C.) ($20 million settlement for 2,900 back pay claimants in racial discrimination case involving facilities in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina)
Bogan v. Fleetwood Enterprises (D. Idaho) (settlement of nationwide sex discrimination and sexual harassment class action for prospective relief)
Brewer v. Miller Brewing Co. (N.D. N.Y.) ($2.7 million in compensatory damages to 97 former black employees harmed by co-worker racial harassment)
Dowdell v. Ona Corp. (N.D. Ala.) ($2.5 million settlement for 142 former black employees harmed by co-worker racial harassment)
Edwards v. City of Houston (S.D. Tex.) (consent decree, and defense of consent decree, providing 106 remedial promotions to African-American and Hispanic police officers harmed by discriminatory promotional tests and related litigation) (five Fifth Circuit arguments, one of them en banc)
Lewis v. Bloomsburg Mills, 773 F.2d 561 (4th Cir. 1985) (reversal of findings of nondiscrimination)
Luevano v. Campbell (D.D.C.) (knocked out Federal government’s nationwide hiring test for 118 professional, technical, and administrative occupational series), and many others.