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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Agreement to Use Alternative Dispute Resolution for Employment Disputes

TACOMA, Wash. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the City of Tacoma today announced a Universal Agreement to Mediate (UAM) to submit all appropriate charges of employment discrimination filed with the EEOC to the federal agency's voluntary, mediation-based Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.

The City of Tacoma agreement is the sixth UAM entered into by the EEOC's Seattle District Office with local employers. This agreement is part of the EEOC's national initiative to resolve workplace disputes informally through ADR prior to an agency investigation or litigation.

"Employers are increasingly recognizing the many benefits of our voluntary ADR program. It's fair, non-adversarial, expeditious and cost-effective, and often resolves these conflicts to the satisfaction of all involved parties," noted Jeanette M. Leino, District Director of EEOC's Seattle District Office. "We commend the City of Tacoma for working with us to reach this important agreement."

"The City of Tacoma is committed to a well-qualified, trained workforce that reflects the diversity of the community," said Woodrow Jones, Human Resources Director for the City of Tacoma. "The City is proud to be the first public employer in the region served by the EEOC's Seattle District Office to join with the EEOC in a universal agreement to use ADR techniques to resolve EEO disputes. In the past, we have used ADR approaches such as mediation to successfully resolve disputes and look forward to this new partnership with the EEOC to use these approaches to resolve discrimination complaints."

EEOC's experience over the years has shown that 13-20% of mediated cases are resolved based solely on a non-monetary benefit, and some resolutions are obtained in only one session. Moreover, a comprehensive survey conducted by independent researchers showed that 91% of charging parties and 96% of employers that have used EEOC mediation would do so again if a charge was filed irrespective of issues, bases, size of employer, or whether the charge was resolved or not. The study concluded that the parties saw the EEOC's mediation process as fair, neutral, and efficient.

At an EEOC public Commission meeting on mediation, employer representatives from ConAgra Foods, Safeway Stores, Johns Hopkins Health Systems Corporation, the Equal Employment Advisory Council (which represents Fortune 500 companies), and the Society for Human Resource Management (the largest international association for HR professionals) cited the benefits of the EEOC's ADR program, including:

  • increased productivity
  • enhanced communications
  • positive employee relations
  • cost reductions
  • faster settlements of disputes

Expanding mediation is the centerpiece of EEOC Chair Cari Dominguez's Five-Point Plan to improve the EEOC's overall operational efficiency and effectiveness. Since April 1999, when its ADR program was launched nationally, the EEOC has mediated more than 50,000 cases with about 70% being successfully resolved in an average time of 85 days nearly half the time it takes to resolve a charge through the investigative process. As part of its efforts to expand its program, the EEOC has been partnering with large employers by entering into over 600 UAMs at the national, regional, and local levels. Further information about the EEOC's ADR Program is available on the agency's web site at

The City of Tacoma employs approximately 3,600 workers in agencies and departments, including schools, libraries, parks and recreation centers, courts, and health and social services.

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 people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government. The region served by the EEOC's Seattle District Office includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.

This page was last modified on September 22, 2004.