Chair of the EEOC Encourages Employment Discrimination Mediation
Wednesday, September, 18, 2013
In an employment law conference held on August 27th, Jacqueline A. Berrien, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, spoke of the merits of the mediation program sponsored by the commission in resolving employment discrimination disputes. According to sources, she encouraged private sector businesses and employees to use mediation as an alternative dispute resolution process when allegations of employment discrimination arise.
The workshop was part of the EEOC’s EXCEL conference, held annually and labeled “the premier Federal training conference for EEO managers, supervisors and practitioners.” In her discussions, Berrien reminded attendees of the high rate of satisfaction most parties have after going through the process of mediation to deal with employment discrimination claims. She also said that mediation is a “way to resolve cases quickly and without litigation,” later claiming that almost 96 percent of those who had used the EEOC’s employment discrimination mediation program would use it again and were happy with the outcome.
Berrien also stated that employment discrimination mediation has been touted by employees and viewed unfavorably by employers. “People who file charges are three times more likely to say they will participate in mediation than employers,” she said. In cases of systemic discrimination, however, Berrien suggested that further action beyond mediation might be necessary to resolve the problem.
In closing the conference, Berrien reiterated that the EEOC is focused on using law enforcement procedures to deal with employment discrimination, particularly when it is systemic across all departments of a company. For companies with on-going problems involving employment discrimination, such law enforcement procedures might be the wake-up call that is needed, especially when mediation fails to resolve the issue.