Values-based / Identity-based Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Ellis v. MacroB

Kate Harvey and David Kovick, under the supervision of Lawrence Susskind and Jennifer Brown
5-person nonscorable mediation between an employee and his/her corporate employer regarding potentially conflicting values and interests around issues of homosexuality and religious faith

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OVERVIEW:

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.

 

MATERIALS INCLUDED:

Participant materials include:

  • General Instructions for all participants

 

Confidential Instructions for:

  • V. Ellis, former MacroB Employee
  • P. Geer, MacroB Diversity Manager
  • S. Chapin, Attorney to V. Ellis
  • S. Davis, Attorney to MacroB
  • H. Cheney, Mediator, Mediation Services

 

Teacher’s Package Includes:

  • All of the above
  • Jennifer Gerarda Brown, Peacemaking in the Culture War Between Gay Rights and Religious Liberty, 95 Iowa Law Review 747 (2010).
  • Teaching Note

 

TEACHING POINTS:

The key teaching objective is to demonstrate that assisted negotiation (i.e., mediation) can be used to resolve values-based disputes, not just interest-based disputes. With the assistance of a mediator, the parties and their attorneys can craft a settlement that does not require them to compromise their fundamental values. Key teaching points include the importance in values-based disputes of avoiding threats to individual identity, stressing the human element, focusing on ongoing relationships, focusing on overarching values, and focusing on individual interests as well as values.

 

SIMILAR SIMULATIONS:

Ellis v. MacroB is one of a 3-part series of simulations focused on the mediation of values-based disputes. The other two simulations in the series are Williams v. Northville and Springfield OutFest.

If you wish to purchase all three simulations at a discount we have a bundle option available click here. You can also download a PDF version of “Teaching about the Mediation of Values-Based and Identity-Based Disputes”.

 

Ellis v. MacroB Attributes

Time required:
2-3 hours
Number of participants:
5
Teams involved:
Yes
Agent present:
Lawyer
Neutral third party present:
Mediator
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
Yes
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You are then permitted to view the document on your computer and either print the number of copies you purchased, or forward the electronic file as many times as the number of copies you purchased. You will only receive a link to one electronic file per document. So, if you order 25 soft copies, you may either forward copies of the link to 25 people via e-mail, or print (and/or photocopy) 25 hard copies of the document.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

The purchase price and handling fee are the same for both soft and hard copies. Soft copies do not entail a shipping fee.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, then you should order a single Teacher’s Package for that role simulation. A PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package is also available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. There is no need to order participant materials as well as a Teacher’s Package, as all Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters. Please note that the materials in Teacher’s Packages are for the instructor’s review and reference only, and may not be duplicated for use with participants.

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.