Meeting of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
EEOC Mediation Program and the Workplace Benefits of Mediation
December 2, 2003
Viewed from my perspectives as the Immediate Past Management Co-Chair of the American Bar Association's Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, a lawyer for employers and a contract mediator for the EEOC, the mediation program has a been a significant success in promoting the resolution of charges without the rancor, uncertainties and expense of formal legal proceedings.
The ABA EEO Committee, comprised of plaintiffs', union and employer's attorneys as well as neutrals, is fully supportive of the program. Discrimination disputes can be unusually disputatious, as the federal courts have experienced. Mediation, on the other hand, offers unique opportunities for the parties to resolve their differences with dignity and in a fashion that is mutually acceptable and beneficial. As part of its ongoing liaison program with the EEOC, the Committee has sought to assist the program with additional mediators where needed and will also be working with the EEOC on a pilot project to offer mediation at the post-investigation as well as the pre-investigation stages.
As an employers attorney, I routinely recommend mediation to employers. The ability to address the problems underlying the charge, to learn possible solutions and to fashion a solution that could not result from a court proceeding makes both business and economic sense. In addition, the process can accommodate particular needs of the employer, as well as of the charging party.
As a contract mediator, my experience has underscored the value of mediation. In two of the mediations for the EEOC, we were able to fashion a remedy which would allow the charging party to become reemployed with the employers' assistance (in one case by opening doors and the other by retraining). Because these mediations occurred before any formal adversarial proceedings, the parties were able to develop solutions meeting the serious needs of the charging parties with the support of the employer. In another mediation, one of the keys to reaching a solution was the open and respectful exchange of information and views, leading to an equitable solution no one thought previously possible. In addition, that mediation occurred after the EEOC had issued probable cause, demonstrating the value of mediation at the post-investigation stage as well.
In sum, the EEOC's mediation program provides a uniquely invaluable opportunity for addressing and resolving issues arising out of real and perceived discrimination in the workplace.
This page was last modified on December 2, 2003.
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