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Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Commerce

EEO Mediation Guide

What is Mediation?

"The courts of this country should not be the place where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the place where disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried."

Justice Sandra Day O'Conner

Mediation is familiar to most people as a means of resolving labormanagement and international disputes, but it also has been used to settle contract, interpersonal, human resource, and EEO conflicts. Mediation involves the intervention of a third person, or mediator, into a dispute to assist the parties in negotiating jointly acceptable resolution of issues in conflict. The mediator meets with the parties at a neutral location where the parties can discuss the dispute and explore a variety of solutions. Each party is encouraged to be open and candid about his/her point of view. The mediator, as a neutral third party, can view the dispute objectively and assist the parties in considering alternatives and options that they might not have considered. The mediator is neutral in that he or she does not stand to personally benefit from the terms of the settlement, and is impartial in that he or she does not have a preconceived bias about how the conflict should be resolved.

The mediation session is private and confidential. Matters unique to the mediation discussion have been held by Federal courts to be privileged and inadmissible in any adversarial administrative or court proceeding with the exception of certain issues such as fraud, waste and abuse, or criminal activity. If a settlement was not resolved during a mediation session, and the dispute was litigated in any administrative or judicial proceeding, neither the mediator nor his/her notes can be subpoenaed by either party.

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Page last updated: Friday, January 24, 2003