The Many Values Of Mediation Can Benefit Family Employers

Two recent studies determined that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) online mediation program shows "tremendous success."

Since it began in 2000, the EEOC's mediation process has been well-received by both employers and charging parties. During the pandemic, the EEOC transitioned from in-person to online mediation, which led to additional benefits.

The studies found that 98 percent of employers and 92 percent of charging parties had a positive view of the process and would be inclined to engage in mediation again for a future EEOC charge.

Around 70 percent of those surveyed preferred the online format to in-person mediation.

Some of the reasons for this preference include greater flexibility and convenience; lower financial cost; and the ability to be in a "safe space" during discussions. Researchers found that nearly 20 percent of charging parties are uncomfortable meeting in-person with their employer, and online mediation increased their ability to seek justice.

The findings are based on survey data from 782 employers, 452 charging parties, and 139 mediators.

The EEOC stated that it will continue to make its online dispute resolution (ODR) available as a mediation option because of the findings of these studies. "EEOC's Pivot to Virtual Mediation Highly Successful, New Studies Find" www.eeoc.gov (Jun. 01, 2022).

 

Commentary and Checklist

 

Family employers in a dispute with staff, whether it has become actual litigation or not, may want to consider mediation as a way to potentially resolve disputes more quickly and with less cost.

Mediation is a voluntary, informal, and confidential way to resolve employment disputes. A trained, neutral mediator helps the parties come to a solution on their own, rather than making a judgment about who is right or wrong and issuing a decision.

Mediation allows conflicts to be resolved more quickly. According to the EEOC, the average charge resolved through its mediation process takes fewer than three months. EEOC "Mediation" www.eeoc.gov. There are also many private sector providers of mediation available.

Some benefits of mediation include:

 

·      Mediation is low cost and voluntary.

·      Mediation works. The majority of mediation cases lead to a settlement.

·      Mediation occurs early in the litigation process and is faster than any other dispute resolution option.

·      Mediation is confidential, and no information may be passed on to any other phase of dispute resolution if an agreement is not reached.

·      Once a settlement agreement is reached, it is documented and becomes enforceable in court.

·      Mediation can foster improved working relationships and a better understanding of factors that may be affecting the overall workplace.

·      Unlike mediation, litigation can damage workplace morale. Staff members "take sides" and relationships suffer. Good staff may leave organizations embroiled in litigation to work for an employer that is not.

·      Litigation damages public reputations, and that can hurt hiring and performance.

·      Litigation puts control of the outcome in the hands of the judge and jury. Mediation keeps control of the outcome in the hands of the parties.

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