Mediation is an informal and confidential way for people to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator who is trained to help people discuss their differences. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. Instead, the mediator helps the parties work out their own solutions to problems.
Note: Federal agencies are required to have an alternative dispute resolution program. Most use mediation, but not necessarily the EEOC process.
One of the greatest benefits of mediation is that it allows people to resolve the charge in a friendly way and in ways that meet their own unique needs. Also, a charge can be resolved faster through mediation. While it takes less than 3 months on average to resolve a charge through mediation, it can take 6 months or longer for a charge to be investigated. Mediation is fair, efficient and can help the parties avoid a lengthy investigation and litigation.
Shortly after a charge is filed, we may contact both the employee and employer to ask if they are interested in participating in mediation. The decision to mediate is completely voluntary. If either party turns down mediation, the charge will be forwarded to an investigator. If both parties agree to mediate, we will schedule a mediation, which will be conducted by a trained and experienced mediator. If the parties do not reach an agreement at the mediation, the charge will be investigated like any other charge. A written signed agreement reached during mediation is enforceable in court just like any other contract.
A mediation session usually lasts from 3 to 4 hours, although the time can vary depending on how complicated the case is. There is no charge to either party to attend the mediation.
All parties to the charge should attend the mediation session. If you are representing the employer, you should be familiar with the facts of the charge and have the authority to settle the charge on behalf of the employer. Although you don’t have to bring an attorney with you to the mediation, either party may choose to do so. The mediator will decide what role the attorney will play during the mediation.
If you would like to learn more about mediation, we have extensive information about EEOC's Mediation Program available.