New Discrimination Mediation Program for Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission recently initiated a mediation program in an attempt to manage some of the 3,000 plus employment discrimination complaints they receive on an annual basis. As the organization has become more overwhelmed by spikes in complaint filings, an alternative was needed to help handle the volume within organization resources.
This move represents a nationwide trend towards finding alternative ways to solve issues, many of which are complex and tend to clog up traditional means of dispute resolution. Since mediation has been so effective in other platforms, such as the family law arena where mediation is used for divorce, it's been increasingly explored by other areas of the law. The program will give an opportunity for employees filing complaints and the accused employers to be heard.
The new mediation program was developed in response to a heavy flow of complaints that led to investigations, hearings and court filings. Discussing the complaints and possible solutions through mediation is expected to cut down on the number of cases going ahead to trial, the legal expenses associated with investigations and trials and the current lack of resources that the Human Relations Commission has to manage these complaints.
The program will work by using a 10-day period of mediation to see if the parties are able to come to an agreement. There is no cost associated with the program and it's not necessary to hire legal representation in order for the case to go to mediation. Even better, the details of the complaint and potential resulting case are kept confidential, unlike more public court hearings and trials. Attorneys from different agencies who have been certified as mediators are eligible to take on these cases. If no resolution is achieved after the 10-day period, the normal commission strategy for investigating claims will be initiated.