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Studies of the Mediation Program

Several studies of EEOC's Mediation Program have been conducted through contracts with a consortium of university professors with ADR program evaluation experience.

The first report, entitled An Evaluation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Mediation Program, examined the program from the perspective of charging parties and respondents and their satisfaction with the EEOC mediation process. The survey of parties who participated in the program found the process to be fair and neutral, and 96% of respondents and 91% of charging parties indicated they would use the mediation process again if the opportunity arose, even where the results of the mediation were different than they had anticipated.

A subsequent study, entitled The EEOC Mediation Program : Mediators' Perspective on the Parties, Processes, and Outcomes, is the second research report on the evaluation of the EEOC mediation program. This report presents mediator feedback on the dynamics of the mediation process, including conduct that facilitates resolution of the dispute - why the dispute was not resolved, mediator tactics, behavior that acts as a barrier to a resolution, the role of legal counsel and other representatives, and the turning point(s) in a successful mediation. The report also focuses on mediator suggestions regarding process improvements. The study provided EEOC with valuable insights and baseline information for development of advanced skills training for its mediators. Although the report notes that EEOC mediators use evaluative techniques, such as reality testing and role-reversal, which help the parties clarify positions and identify resolution options, the ultimate resolution rests with the parties. The mediator does not render an opinion or decision. To address a perception that charging parties may be benefit from legal representation, EEOC has provided mediator training on "leveling the playing field", and continues to explore partnerships with qualified outside entities, such as the ABA and local bar associations, to provide pro bono representation to charging parties and employers.

The third report is entitled An Investigation of the Reasons for the Lack of Employer Participation in the EEOC Mediation Program. The survey captured the feedback of employers and their representatives and reasons why they declined to mediate a particular case before the EEOC. The survey found that most employers are well informed about the EEOC mediation program and that EEOC could not have done anything differently to entice them to mediate a particular charge. Employers decline mediation because they have conducted their own internal investigation and believe the specific charge to be without merit, or have concluded that EEOC will not issue a reasonable cause finding. The report concludes that it is the perceived quality of the charges and not the perceived quality of the mediation program, that determines whether or not the employer will mediate the charge.

The fourth report, entitled EEOC Mediation Participants Experience in Online Mediation and Comparison to In-Person Mediation, found that more than nine out of 10 participants (98% of employers and 92% of charging parties) indicated that they would be willing to participate in the EEOC's mediation program again if they were a party to an EEOC charge. A majority of participants (nearly 70%) reported that they would prefer online mediation to in-person mediation in the future. Participants cited flexibility, convenience, cost savings, and a “safe space” as reasons for preferring online mediation. 

The fifth report, entitled EEOC Mediators' Perception of Remote Mediation and Comparisons to In-Person Mediation, reported that EEOC mediators found that online mediation is easier to use and more flexible than in-person mediation; achieved similar or better quality and value of settlements for both parties; and increased access to justice for charging parties.