We here this question from employers all the time, so here’s our response…
Any “decision maker” who has the authority to make a binding decision should attend the mediation along with their counsel. In most cases, this person will be an officer of a company, or a human resources representative who will have “settlement authority” up to a set dollar amount.
In some cases, it makes sense to have a technical expert on hand. This is especially true for non-compete or injury matters. Because non-compete matters can turn on highly technical issues, bringing a person who can explain the company’s software, trade secrets, or other technology can help an employer ensure that the mediator understands its position.
Some employers like to bring other key people to explain facts, if necessary. While this can be helpful, sometimes it is best to leave the people closest to the dispute behind. For example, in a harassment situation, inviting the alleged harasser to the mediation could lead to an emotional response from the plaintiff that does nothing to further the settlement discussion between the parties.