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Dispute? That's Bananas!?!

A store owner and a past employee dispute against the employee’s last paycheck. Olivia, the employee, has a family friend who happens to be a mediator that decides to work pro bono for the two parties based on the Chris, the store owner’s agreement. David, the mediator often shops at Chris’s local community food store and is an active member of the Christian church they both attend on Sundays.

The mediation starts with the mediator introduction and clarifying the rules for mediation for both parties. Chris, the store owner begins to speak about how the Olivia, the employee would show up late for work every week, often played on her phone, and did not like to clean the aisles of the fresh foods sections every week. Chris stated that because Olivia would often forget to clean the floors, aisles, and table displays for the fresh vegetables, the store’s fresh produce section loss revenue by 5 percent last month. Chris also stated that he was a Christian man and didn’t like that Olivia would wear her LGBTQ backpack to work and leave it near the cash register. Chris goes on to state that he didn’t want people in the community to know that he supported the LGBTQ at his store because he is an active member of a major Christian church. Chris decides to terminate Olivia for her lack in work ethic and professional etiquette. Chris says that Olivia was a part-time bi-weekly employee that served the afternoon shifts when she was out of college. Apparently, Olivia’s last paycheck covered 23 hours and when she was terminated, she was halfway through the next pay cycle. This would mean that Olivia was supposed to be paid another 11 hours up until the time she was terminated by her employer Chris.

Olivia is a full-time student at Florida State University studying Biology. She decided to use the fresh produce as an experiment researching how bacteria can grown on bananas over a long period of time. Olivia would take old produce and take pictures everyday of how long the mold, age, and types of bacteria would grow on old bananas. She is an active member of the LGBTQ community and participates in community service for the members who have AIDs in Hospice. She hates going to church because the community is judgmental and doesn’t understand her. Olivia admits that she would often have her backpack near the cash register while she was bagging up groceries. She would be on her phone because she has a life outside of work and college. Olivia states that she is sorry, but she needs the money from her last paycheck.

Chris decided not to give her the paycheck because she was taking large amounts of produce from the section for her experiments all month and his revenue decreased 5 percent. David, the mediator asks Chris if he can make any arrangements for Oliva to get her money from the last 11 hours of work. Chris says he can’t do it because it’s not worth the lack of work ethics that she gave to promote the local grocery store. Olivia says, “FINE!” David can tell that Olivia is upset for not getting her paycheck. David calmly asks what Olivia needs to happen to make her feel better about the situation? Olivia says, “He’s the one that should be paying me for my brilliance. I need the money for college.” Chris says, “Look buddy, I’m not gonna budge on this paycheck situation, you cost me too much money. Maybe, I can help you find someone else to work so you can have money for college. The church has a day care program in the afternoons you can work if your willing to give them a try.” Olivia says, “she will think about asking the day care director at their church later that evening about working the afternoon shifts.”

The volunteer mediation shows a lot of character in the development of a dispute. Often, individuals can have residual tensions with a particular person that they formally worked with or knew in the community that can change who we are. The abilities of mediation are to have both parties vent their frustrations and tell the other person in a calm manner what they believe should happen next. David was able to interrupt the flow of conversation a few important times when Olivia got too upset at the fact that she was not getting any more money from Chris the store owner. Compromises can even be seen through a different avenue that still set the parties up for success in the long run. Olivia has a future endeavor of working with children after school which might be more her academic pace than in a local grocery store.

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