Food and Drug Retailer Joins Growing List of Fortune 500 Companies Endorsing Mediation-Based Alternative Dispute Resolution
BOISE, Idaho - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Albertsons, Inc. today announced a national partnership agreement to submit all appropriate charges of employment discrimination filed with the EEOC to the federal agency's voluntary mediation-based Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.
The Albertsons agreement is the eighteenth National Universal Agreement to Mediate (NUAM) entered into by the EEOC with large employers as part of the Commission's initiative to informally resolve workplace disputes through ADR prior to an agency investigation or litigation.
"We commend Albertsons for working cooperatively with us to achieve this mutually beneficial mediation agreement," said EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez. "Mediation of workplace disputes is an efficient, non-adversarial, collaborative process. It saves time and money, and often achieves favorable outcomes for each party. For employers, it is a win-win situation, with nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking advantage of the EEOC mediation process."
Expanding mediation is a key component of Chair Dominguez's Five-Point Plan to improve EEOC's overall operational efficiency and effectiveness. In addition to the 18 national mediation agreements, EEOC district offices have entered into nearly 300 mediation agreements with employers at the local and regional levels within their respective jurisdictions.
"Albertsons is committed to diversity at every level of our organization," said Larry Johnston, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Albertsons. "Our track record in the area of employment diversity is excellent, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination in the workplace. We strongly endorse the EEOC's view on voluntary mediation of all appropriate charges that may be filed against us."
He added: "In the past, Albertsons has successfully mediated several cases with the EEOC. This new partnership agreement will help resolve any discrimination allegations anywhere in our company in a quick and effective manner."
Albertsons (NYSE: ABS), headquartered in Boise, Idaho, is one of the nation's leading food and drug retailers, with more than 2,300 stores in 31 states, and annual sales of approximately $36 billion. The company's retail banners include Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Sav-on Drugs, Osco Drug, Albertsons-Osco, Albertsons-Sav-on, Max Foods, Super Saver and Grocery Warehouse.
Under the terms of the NUAM, all eligible charges of discrimination filed with the Commission naming Albertsons or any of its subsidiaries as the employer/respondent will be referred to the EEOC's mediation unit, as appropriate. The company will designate corporate representatives to handle inquiries and other logistical matters related to potential charges in order to expedite a prompt scheduling of the matter for EEOC mediation. The benefits of universal mediation agreements include:
Under the EEOC's National Mediation Program, the largest ADR employment program of its kind, EEOC offices have conducted more than 44,000 mediations, resolving over 30,000 charges within an average processing time of 86 days since 1999. In Fiscal Year 2002, a comprehensive study conducted by an independent consortium of college and university professors with ADR experience found that over 91 percent of charging parties and 96 percent of employers that have participated in EEOC mediation would use the program again if they were a party to a future charge. Additional information about the EEOC's National Mediation Program is available online at www.eeoc.gov (See "Mediation").
The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against discrimination in the federal government.