The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is starting a new voluntary mediation pilot program in which private-sector discrimination charges filed with the agency will be bounced back to the company's own internal dispute resolution program.
How the "referral back" mediation pilot will work: An employee who files a discrimination charge with the EEOC can choose to have his charge held for 60 days while he tries to resolve the dispute via in-house mediation. If it's resolved, the charge will be closed. If not, the EEOC will pursue the claim.
What companies can participate? Only those that have a dispute resolution program that meets the EEOC's criteria, meaning:
- Participation by its employees is voluntary.
- The program has clearly-written procedures.
- It is free to employees.
- Settlements obtained must be in writing and must also be enforceable in court.
Bottom line: You can escape costly litigation by using mediation when employee disputes arise, but don't expect your participation in this pilot program to automatically save you from future charges.
Find out more by visitingwww.eeoc. gov/mediate/referralpilotqanda.html.