I am pursuing more and more employment law cases in arbitration right now than I ever have in my career. Arbitration is an alternative to Court. In arbitration, the parties "choose" to have their disputes heard by an arbitrator (often a retired Judge or an experienced lawyer), rather than a judge or jury.
I am certain that my personal experience of an uptick in arbitration is common among employment lawyers. Several Maryland and U.S. Supreme Court decisions allow employers to make their employees "agree" to waive their right to a jury and to pursue class actions as a condition of employment. Employers generally prefer arbitration because of a belief that it is private, cheaper, and more employer-friendly than the court system.
In my experience, arbitration is more expensive than court for the employer because the employer often must pay the costs associated with arbitration. Hence, the employer has to pay its own lawyer and the arbitrator's fee. Also, arbitration is not always private. Also, I have had some good success in arbitration. Finally, when the employee is the one being sued, employers either forget about an arbitration or regret having made the employee sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment.