It's not as if Atlanta Legal Copies were a hotbed of employee lawsuits. It's not, but considering today's litigiousclimate, management isn't taking chances. The Atlanta-based provider of facilities-management services is developing its own alternative disputeresolution (ADR) program.

ADR programs aim to handle employee conflicts before they escalate into costly court cases. Atlanta Legal Copies has taken a three-pronged approach in itsprogram. First, if someone has a problem with a manager, "he or she is automatically entitled to take that concern to the next level," says Joe Carroll,human resources vice president. "We guarantee confidentiality, and employees have the option of going as far up the corporate ladder as company presidentMark Hawn." Second, the company provides a hotline for employees who have questions about company policy or want to voice complaints. And when allelse fails, both sides commit to taking disputes to formal arbitration, where a neutral third party hears both sides and then issues a binding decision.

All new employees are required to sign a document agreeing to compulsory binding arbitration. Current employees -- there are 1,600 in 21 states -- aren'tcompelled to sign but are asked to do so. "It all depends on how you roll it out," says Carroll. "You have to market it and get employees to buy into it."