Values-based / Identity-based Dispute Negotiation Role-Play: Ellis v. MacroB

TitleValues-based / Identity-based Dispute Negotiation Role-Play: Ellis v. MacroB
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsHarvey, K, Kovick, D, Susskind, L, Brown, J
Keywordsagreement, agreements, conflict, dispute, Ellis v. MacroB, interests, mediating, mediation, mediation services, mediator, negotiate, negotiated agreement, negotiation, PON, relationship, Springfield Outfest

Five-person nonscorable mediation between an employee and his/her corporate employer regarding potentially conflicting values and interests around issues of homosexuality and religious faith

Full Text

This is a five-person, non-scorable simulation focused on mediating values-based legal disputes; specifically, disputes involving potentially conflicting values and interests around issues of homosexuality and religious faith. Based on a real case, this simulation focuses on a dispute between an employee and his/her employer, a large, privately-held software company. It also explores the role of attorneys representing their clients in negotiated agreements around values-based disputes.

In this simulation, until recently Ellis was senior project manager at MacroB, a computer software company headquartered in California. The simulation begins after a dispute arose between Ellis and MacroB after the launch of a company-wide diversity campaign that featured a series of diversity posters, including one that read: “I am a gay man and I am MacroB.” The posters were placed in employee work areas, including one located on the exterior wall of Ellis’s cubicle. Ellis is devoutly religious in a faith tradition that holds that homosexuality is sinful and wrong, and Ellis was deeply disturbed by the poster.

In response, Ellis posted several Bible scripture verses on the inside wall of his/her cubicle that included quotations that condemned homosexuality and predicted dire outcomes for those who engaged in homosexual acts. When asked to remove them by management, Ellis refused. The issue was elevated to the company’s Diversity Manager, P. Geer. After several meetings with Geer, Ellis offered to remove the passages if MacroB removed its posters depicting homosexual employees. After several meetings and no agreement, Ellis was given a week off with pay to reconsider, and MacroB removed the Bible verses that Ellis posted.

Upon returning to work, Ellis reposted all of the Bible passages and refused to remove them. During multiple meetings, the conversation between Ellis and Geer deteriorated, and when it became clear that Ellis would not remove the passages, Ellis was fired for insubordination. At the urging of a mutual legal professional, Ellis and MacroB have reluctantly agreed to speak with a mediator. After hearing from both parties, the mediator, Cheney, believes that some consensual resolution might be possible. The simulation begins at the point where Ellis, Geer, and their attorneys have convened with the mediator, Cheney.