FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Claire Gonzales September 19, 1996 Reginald Welch (202) 663-4900 TDD: (202) 663-4494
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) have entered into an interagency agreement to mediate private sector charges of employment discrimination as part of EEOC's alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program.
"Constrained by a lack of resources and the authority to use volunteer mediators, the Commission sees this agreement as an important step forward in establishing a viable ADR program," said EEOC Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas.
While EEOC district offices have their own ADR plans in place, the inability to use volunteer mediators has curbed the proposed broader use of ADR as a means of resolving private sector charges. The Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1990 (ADRA), which allowed the use of volunteer mediators, expired recently. Reauthorization of the ADRA is currently pending action in the U.S. Congress.
Despite these obstacles, the EEOC-FMCS agreement will enable EEOC to use ADR techniques on a limited basis. Under the agreement, approximately 400 new charges of employment discrimination filed with EEOC district offices around the country will be offered for voluntary ADR using skilled FMCS personnel as mediators. The project will run until at least mid-summer of 1997. A comprehensive analysis and evaluation of the project by FMCS will take place upon its completion.
The Commission's ADR program is part of EEOC's reinvented charge processing procedures, which allow for the use of voluntary mediation as an alternative to the administrative charge process. The ADR program resulted from recommendations by EEOC's Task Force on Alternative Dispute Resolution, which were unanimously approved by the full Commission on April 19, 1995. Following passage of the Task Force recommendations, which directed EEOC district offices to formulate their own ADR proposals, the Commission issued an official ADR Policy Statement on July 17, 1995. The statement reaffirmed EEOC's commitment to using ADR as an integral part of its new charge processing procedures.
Copies of the ADR Policy Statement as well as the recommendations and report of the ADR Task Force are available by calling EEOC headquarters at the numbers listed above.
EEOC 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 Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
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