Bruce DemingTwo-party negotiation between attorneys for a state agency and a gay advocacy group regarding a state policy that led to the removal of two foster children from the home of a gay couple
The Department of Human Services is the state agency charged with, among other things, the selection of foster parents in whose homes children will eventually be placed. The need for foster parents is high and is growing. The DHS interviews Baker and Irwin, a gay couple, finds them to be very qualified, and places two foster children with them. The World publishes and article on the foster placement, and an uproar ensues. DHS announces a new policy which limits social workers’ discretion in approving foster parents and states that homosexuality is a detrimental factor in determining eligibility. The two children are removed from Baker & Irwin’s home and are placed with another family. The attorney from the Lesbian and Gay Advocates and Defenders meets with an attorney from DHS to discuss possible out of court settlements to the lawsuit brought by Baker and Irwin. The parties have competing interests, both with each other and internally. LGAD is anxious to have high publicity, but Baker and Irwin would prefer to be out of the spotlight. DHS has a potential conflict between the interests of the department and those of the governor, who is running for President and wants only positive publicity. Resolution of the situation is possible, but will require that each party address the competing concerns at both levels.
The exercise is designed to work with one attorney per side. The parties’ instructions require 20-30 minutes to read and analyze. Negotiation takes about 1 hour, and review can run anywhere from 40-90 minutes.
For all parties:
- General Instructions
- DHS Attorney
- LGAD Attorney
Teacher’s package (18 pages total):
- All of the above material
- Teaching notes
- When the interests of constituents and clients are in competition, negotiators are in a difficult position. This difficulty is compounded when the negotiator’s own values or interests in an issue are strong. Participants can discuss how these multiple interests affected their approaches to the negotiation and eventual settlement.
- Different perceptions and different interests may lead to different conclusions about the desirability of negotiated settlements over litigation. Participants can explore the potential impacts of each method on the interests of their parties, and can discuss how to balance these interests.
- Negotiators who must present settlements to the public may feel different levels of flexibility than those who negotiate in public. Participants can discuss how the impending press conference altered their behavior during the negotiation and how it impacted the final drafting of a settlement.
Difference Issues; Fairness; Interests; Legitimacy; Options, generating; Power imbalance
Baker & Irwin v. Department of Human Services Attributes
- Time required:
- 1-2 hours
- Number of participants:
- Teams involved:
- Agent present:
- Neutral third party present:
- Teaching notes available:
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Ordering copies for multiple participants
If you wish to order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Participant Copies.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required; the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Participant Copies.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.
In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.