Cornell University Alliance for Education in Dispute Resolution to Serve as Mediators
Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced the implementation of a new internal agency-wide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program, called RESOLVE, to settle workplace disputes through informal voluntary mediation. As part of the initiative, the EEOC has entered into a working relationship with the Alliance for Education in Dispute Resolution at Cornell University (Cornell Alliance) to serve as a source of mediators.
"The EEOC must exemplify the best employment practices from the inside out," said Chair Dominguez. "RESOLVE is a new and exciting one-stop, informal mediation process that will move us closer to becoming a model federal workplace. The Commission is firmly committed to using alternative methods to resolve employment disputes in all of its activities, as appropriate."
The RESOLVE program was developed under Chair Dominguez's Five-Point Plan to improve the agency's overall operational efficiency and effectiveness. Promoting and expanding mediation and other types of ADR is the centerpiece of the Plan. The Plan also stresses the importance of EEOC serving as a model workplace by "practicing what we preach."
The Cornell Alliance provides EEOC with a nationwide roster of expert mediators, all of whom are experienced in workplace discrimination and related employment issues. The Alliance is a consortium of the nation's professional organizations in dispute resolution as well as its universities and law schools. In addition to the services of the Cornell Alliance, RESOLVE will use mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and the Federal Executive Board Shared Neutrals Programs.
Mediation was selected as the primary method of dispute resolution for RESOLVE because of its flexibility, voluntary nature, and the demonstrated success of mediation in the resolution of workplace disputes. Mediation involves the use of a neutral third party who acts as a facilitator in the resolution of a dispute. The benefits of RESOLVE include:
Disputes suitable for RESOLVE include EEO complaints, administrative and negotiated grievances, harassment allegations, unfair labor practices, and issues appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The program was developed by a working group of representatives from various EEOC program offices and the union, the National Council of EEOC Locals, No. 216.
In addition to RESOLVE, the EEOC maintains a highly successful external mediation program to settle private sector charges of discrimination. Under the National Mediation Program, EEOC offices have conducted more than 44,000 mediations, resolving over 29,000 charges and obtaining over $400 million in benefits for aggrieved individuals – all within an average processing time of 86 days. Moreover, a recent comprehensive study conducted by a independent consortium of college and university professors with ADR expertise found that over 91% of charging parties and 96% 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 on the Commission's web site at www.eeoc.gov (click on "Mediation").
EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or national origin and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination based on age; the Equal Pay Act of 1963; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the federal sector; 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 the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.