73rd National Mediation Pact Between Commission and Corporate America Bolsters Trend
ATLANTA - Southern Company, its affiliates, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the signing of a National Universal Agreement to Mediate (NUAM) to informally resolve workplace disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) prior to an EEOC investigation or potential litigation.
The national mediation pact is EEOC's 73rd such agreement with a major employer (mostly Fortune 500 companies) and continues a two-year trend of Corporate America signing on to the Commission's widely acclaimed ADR program. The EEOC has signed previous NUAMs with Ford Motor Company, Intel Corporation, ConAgra Foods, Albertsons, International Dairy Queen, Tyson Foods and dozens of other major employers. Additionally, agency district offices have entered into more than 600 local mediation agreements with companies at the state or regional levels within their respective geographic jurisdictions.
The latest NUAM with EEOC will cover Southern Company affiliates Alabama Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power, Savannah Electric, Georgia Power, Southern Nuclear, Southern Company Services and Southern LINC.
"The Commission is pleased to welcome one of the country's largest power suppliers as our latest mediation partner," said EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez, who has made the promotion and expansion of mediation the centerpiece of her Five-Point Plan to improve the agency's operational efficiency and effectiveness. "More and more employers are coming to realize the benefits of mediation to amicably and quickly resolve employment disputes."
Christopher S. Miller, Southern Company's Vice President of Employee Relations and Associate General Counsel, said: "Southern Company affiliates are committed to equal employment opportunity and to workplace issue resolution. The NUAM, which is part of that commitment, will benefit employees and the company alike by allowing the participants more opportunity to reach a satisfactory resolution."
Under the terms of the NUAM, all eligible charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC naming a Southern Company participating company as the employer/respondent will be referred to the EEOC's mediation unit, as appropriate. The company will designate a corporate representative to handle all inquiries and other logistical matters related to potential charges in order to facilitate a prompt scheduling of the matter for EEOC mediation.
Since 1999, when the National Mediation Program was fully implemented, EEOC has mediated more than 50,000 cases with approximately 70 percent being successfully resolved in an average time of 83 days -- nearly half the time it takes to resolve a charge through the investigative process. Additionally, EEOC's experience over the years has shown that 13-20 percent of mediated cases are resolved based solely on a non-monetary benefit. A comprehensive survey conducted by independent researchers showed that 91 percent of charging parties and 96 percent of employers would use EEOC's mediation program again if a charge was filed -- irrespective of issues, bases, size of employer or whether the charge was resolved or not. The study, available on the agency's web site, concluded that the parties saw the EEOC's process as fair, neutral and efficient.
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 qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government. Further information about the EEOC and its mediation program is available online at www.eeoc.gov.
With more than 4 million customers and nearly 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier super-regional energy company in the Southeast and a leading U.S. producer of electricity. Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states, a growing competitive generation company, an energy services business and a competitive retail natural gas business, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are 15 percent below the national average. Southern Company has been named three consecutive years No. 1 on Fortune magazine's "America's Most Admired Companies" list in the Electric and Gas Utility industry. Southern Company has been ranked the nation's top energy utility in the American Customer Satisfaction Index five years in a row. Southern Company has more than 500,000 shareholders, making its common stock one of the most widely held in the United States. Visit the Southern Company web site at www.southerncompany.com.