Employees often have a lot of questions about the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) mediation. This EEOC mediation Q&A page is helpful for all employees, regardless of their own employment situations.
Who Hears EEOC Mediation?
Only mediators who are experienced and trained in mediation and thoroughly understand employment laws are assigned to mediate EEOC charges. All EEOC mediators, whether internal staff or external mediators, are neutral, unbiased professionals with no stake in the outcome of any mediation process.
How Long Do EEOC Mediation Last?
Most mediation sessions will take three to eight hours. Factors that impact this include:
- The case’s complexity
- The parties’ level of preparation
- How the parties regard one another; resolving “bad blood” takes time.
When Does Mediation Take Place?
Mediation usually occurs early in the employment dispute process.
Offering mediation parties before an investigation saves the EEOC on costs and resources. Many charges can be appropriately resolved through mediation. In addition, holding a mediation before launching an investigation prevents either party from hardening its position and dragging out the investigation and resolution processes.
Can a Party Request Mediation If EEOC Does Not Offer It?
Yes. Either party can request mediation without an offer from the EEOC. As long as both parties agree to participate, EEOC will consider sending the charge to a mediator.
Is the Mediation Process Confidential?
Yes. The EEOC maintains strict confidentiality in its mediation program.
The mediator and the parties must sign agreements to keep everything revealed during the mediation confidential.
EEOC mediation sessions are not tape-recorded or transcribed. Any notes taken by the mediator are destroyed. The mediation program itself is insulated from the EEOC’s investigative and litigation functions.
Who Should Attend an EEOC Mediation?
Both parties—the employee and the employer—must attend the mediation for it to take place. Both sides may bring their respective attorneys.
What Happens When a Charge isn’t Resolved in Mediation?
If a charge is not resolved during the mediation process, the charge is returned to an investigative unit and processed for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Is There a Fee for EEOC Mediation? Who Pays?
The EEOC does not charge for mediation. But each side does bear the cost for their own lawyers.
What Happens if a Party Does Not Comply With a Mediation Agreement?
An agreement reached during mediation is enforceable in court just like any other settlement agreement that results from a charge filed with the EEOC.
If either party believes that the other has failed to comply with a mediated settlement agreement, he or she should contact the EEOC’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Coordinator. Personally, I have never seen a party fail to comply with mediation settlement terms.
The Other Party Seems Difficult to Deal With– Can Mediation Really Help Us Settle?
I believe so. Most cases that are mediated actually reach a settlement, including many where one or both parties regarded their opponent as “difficult.”
A big advantage of the mediation process is that it puts an independent person—the mediator—between the two parties. This intermediary role helps the parties communicate more positively and effectively with one another and move from negative emotions toward a shared goal of resolving differences.
There are no guarantees a settlement will happen, but it is far more likely a difficult party will settle during mediation.
What Risks are Associated with Mediation?
There are few risks associated with mediation, and they are much smaller than the risks either side takes with a prolonged court case.
Mediation is a voluntary process. It is not viewed as a win/lose proposition, but one in which differences are worked out. No one can force either side to settle.
Furthermore, the issues discussed are confidential and cannot be used as evidence against you.
I Want to Settle. My Ex-Boss Doesn’t. Can I Make Him Go to Medidation?
No. As we’ve mentioned, mediation is a voluntary and optional process, so the best you can do is ask.
If your former employer refuses to mediate, accept it politely and see if further opportunities to mediate or settle your matter arise down the road. I’ve found that even when disputes aren’t mediated or settled by mediation session, the majority of cases still settle out of court at some later point. This is the best situation for an employee.
Are you involved in an employment dispute and are considering (or already filed) an EEOC claim? Contact my office for a consultation.