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Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Commerce

EEO Mediation Guide

What Are Some Concerns Expressed About Mediation?

Why Negotiations Fail:

  1. Parties not mediating with "good faith" intent to work together to resolve the dispute.

  2. Parties not hearing what is said.

  3. Parties not willing to separate the person from the problem.

  4. Failure to have the right management representative present.

  5. Parties remaining fixed in their positions.

People often have concerns about the mediation process. Listed below are some of the most frequently raised questions and some responses.

Doesn't a Participant Lose Control and Have His/Her Rights Weakened by Using Mediation?

On the contrary, mediation keeps decision making authority in the hands of the key parties. In mediation, the parties evaluate whether settlement options developed through negotiations meet their needs, and can reject them if they are unacceptable. Agreement is voluntary and authority is preserved.

Doesn't Mediation Just Result in a Compromise?

Occasionally settlements arrived at through mediation are compromises, but often they are more creative and customized agreements which meet thespecific needs of the involved parties. Mediation helps parties to "expand their thinking", to consider broader alternatives meaningful to each party, to exchange interests not known before, to become aware of issues valued by each other, and to develop "win/win solutions.

How Can a Party Be Assured That a Mediator Will Remain Impartial and Not Take Sides?

Professional mediators are trained not to take sides. Standard practice and the Code of Ethics for Mediators guide mediators to ensure impartial behavior. Should either party become dissatisfied with the mediator's behavior, or believe the mediator is acting in a partial manner, they are free to end the session and to report the incident to the Department EEO ADR Manager. Moreover, all participants in a mediation session will be given a Mediation Evaluation Form which solicits their feedback on the quality, integrity, and value of the mediation experience.

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Page last updated: Friday, January 24, 2003