EEOC and Postal Service Enter First-Ever Partnership on Alternative Dispute Resolution
WASHINGTON - Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced the implementation of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to improve the processing of discrimination complaints by Postal workers nationwide. Under the initiative, virtually all requests for hearings before EEOC administrative judges involving bias cases against the Postal Service will first go through mediation.
"I am enthusiastic about this innovative partnership," said Chair Dominguez. "This is a creative use of a powerful tool - mediation - to settle differences in a timely, cost-effective, and mutually satisfactory way. Introducing mediation at this stage of the process is a win-win."
Anthony J. Vegliante, Vice President for Labor Relations at the U.S. Postal Service, said: "Mediation at the hearing stage provides another opportunity to empower parties to a dispute to recognize each other's points of view and to be recognized. Working with the EEOC on this initiative is something that we do gladly and with a commitment to further improve our process for the benefit of all our employees."
Under the nationwide program, EEOC administrative judges will issue a Mediation Order to the parties and provide a copy to the local USPS ADR coordinator. Receipt of the Mediation Order will serve to notify the Postal Service ADR staff of the need to schedule the case for mediation. USPS will provide an expert external mediator to conduct the mediation session, which will typically be completed within 90 days of issuance of the Mediation Order. The role of the mediator is to facilitate discussions and assist the parties in resolving the dispute.
Reaching an agreement is strictly voluntary on the part of participants. The mediator has no authority to mandate a resolution of the case and will inform the EEOC administrative judge of the outcome within 10 days of the mediation, as well as provide a copy of any resulting settlement agreement. If a mediated resolution is not reached, an EEOC administrative judge will proceed to process the complaint in accordance with the federal sector regulations (29 C.F.R. Part 1614).
Cases that will be excluded from the program include class and systemic complaints, those involving Equal Pay Act claims, and cases involving conduct by the complainant of a criminal nature (such as Postal Service "inspector" cases). In addition, in rare circumstances, EEOC administrative judges may determine that good cause exists for not requiring the parties to participate in mediation.
The program has already been phased into EEOC field office hearing units in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, and parts of Texas. Full implementation at all EEOC field offices nationwide is expected by January 2003. EEOC projects that approximately 3,500 complaints per year against USPS will be processed through the mediation program once fully implemented.
Under Executive Order 12067, EEOC provides lead coordination to the efforts of federal agencies to enforce EEO laws. The Commission enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on its Web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on March 28, 2002.
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