There are several reasons for employment mediation. These reasons are: litigation, a damaged workplace environment after a workplace investigation, or repairing of relationships between staff and the board of directors in a non-profit organization. Each one of these is highly driven by emotions.
Employees who complain about a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, wrongful termination or any other employment-related claim can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) or Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These government organizations will sometimes offer mediation with one of their mediators. The employee can choose to consult an attorney and decide whether it would be prudent to have them present at the mediation. During the EEOC mediation, the parties may start in a joint session, where everyone is together and they can initially have an opening statement, where they discuss their grievances.
Once the negotiations are underway, the parties usually move to their own rooms and the mediator practices something called shuttle mediation. The mediation can take several hours and it also may not settle. If it does not settle, the employee has the option to take it to court. Once it is in litigation, there are several times during the litigation, where the parties can attempt mediation. During each of these mediation sessions, if the parties settle, the litigation ends. If the parties settle prior to any litigation, it is customary for the employee to sign a waiver of claims, stating that they will not sue the company in the future for anything related to this complaint. Although mediation is a better option, both parties have to agree to mediation, as it is a voluntary process. The one exception is during litigation, when a judge orders the parties to go to mandatory mediation. This obligates everyone to attempt to resolve the case through mediation. The judge has deemed that the case is resolvable without going to trial. If the parties make a good faith effort to mediate and still cannot come to a resolution, the case continues to make its way towards trial.
The most common type of litigation in the employment realm is a wrongful termination lawsuit. I have been able to resolve these issues through employment mediation, avoiding the court battles to which both the employee and company hates to be subjected
“Alice was referred to us by a trusted partner and I was immediately struck by how easy she made the process. Alice was sure she took time to understand our issues as a small non-profit and worked with us to meet our needs. After the mediation process was complete we were able to get past the deadlock we were in and complete our strategic planning for the next 3 years.”
When a workplace investigation is completed, the workplace environment has usually been harmed. There is distrust among employees and decreased morale. Mediation between the employees is a great procedure to repair the relational damages caused by the investigation. It rebuilds trust and helps people to move towards a healthy working relationship. During mediation, the parties stay together in a room with the mediator. Each side gets a chance to express their concerns. The mediator keeps emotions calm, so that parties can hear one another. Once there is mutual understanding, the mediator can help the parties to come up with healthy ways to interact with each other at the workplace. Mediation is also beneficial for the employers. When employees are happy, they are much less likely to file lawsuits against their employers.
Conflicts among Non-Profit Board Members
Finally, there are instances of toxic relationships between non-profit board members, or between staff and board members. When these conflicts arise, it can prevent an organization from achieving its mission, as parties are blocking activities from moving forward. In these circumstances, I can help the parties work out their differences and begin to build a working relationship with one another. In this type of mediation, the parties usually remain together during the mediation. They talk out their differences and come to a better understanding of one another. This type of mediation is considered to be transformative, because the parties emerge from the mediation with a changed relationship to one another.
Mediation enables healing
Whatever the issue may be, mediation is always cheaper and more effective than going to court. The parties stay in control of their own circumstances. While court battles can last years, employment mediation can help resolve issues in a matter of days or weeks. Unlike court battles, mediation addresses the root cause of the underlying distress and dissatisfaction and has the potential to start the healing process.