When a person believes that his or her civil rights were violated due to discrimination or harassment on the basis of their race, sex or nationality, were denied housing in violation of Fair Housing laws or otherwise had their state or federal civil rights violated, they may turn to mediation to help resolve these issues. This process involves many different steps, including the following:
The mediator will explain his or her role as a neutral third party who is there to guide the parties toward an amicable resolution of their legal issues. He or she will then provide ground rules on the respectful communication exchange and outline the process of mediation.
Each party involved in the dispute will then have an opportunity to explain their point of view, tell their side of the story, points of agreement and issues that need to be resolved. They may also express their hopes and expectations for a positive outcome.
The mediator may separate the parties in different rooms and then meet with them one-on-one. During these meetings, the mediator will evaluate the strength of the case, help the parties understand the possible risks of ongoing litigation or conflict and suggest possible options to resolve the dispute.
During this stage in mediation, the parties may meet together with the mediator to try to identify possible solutions to their legal issues. They may agree on mutual resolutions, such as agreeing not to speak negatively about the other or reinstatement. They can also brainstorm other possible solutions, such as reassignment of a harassing coworker, a public apology, a reference to an employee to help him or her get a new job or the award of severance pay or financial compensation.
The mediator will draw up a contract that outlines the agreements between the parties. Each party will then sign the contract and the mediation will end.
Since federal law prohibits nursing homes from requiring families to agree to pre-dispute arbitration, nursing homes have looked to other alternatives to resolve disputes. One effective alternative is mediation, a private process in which a neutral third party helps those involved in a dispute reach an amicable decision through open communication and collaboration.
Mediation has been used for years in the nursing home setting to resolve disputes, such as:
- Liability cases – Mediation is often used in cases involving liability, negligence and medical malpractice. Mediation can evaluate what the standard of care was and if it was breached. It is also used in intentional tort cases when a nursing home employee assaults or otherwise harms a nursing home resident.
- Breach of contract – Nursing homes enter into contracts with residents, their families, vendors and employees. Mediation often helps the parties better evaluate their position and reach an amicable decision.
- Third party responsibility claims – In some situations, a third party may be to blame for a resident’s injury and the nursing home may be liable for this party’s actions. Mediation may be able to help the parties devise ways to better protect the resident.
- Consumer protection claims – In some states, nursing home legal issues may involve consumer protection statutes. These statutes may provide an additional basis for recovery and may include the payment for attorney’s fees.
- Employment disputes – Issues between employees and with employees may be resolved through mediation, which encourages better communication.
Because nursing home cases often involve heightened emotions and private issues, mediation is the ideal forum to resolve these disputes. A mediator with experience in these types of cases can ensure that all parties feel heard and respected so that they will be more likely to reach an amicable decision.
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