Mediation is one form of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) used by the agency. Other forms include Telephone, Video and Settlement Conferences. Since introduction in the 1920s, Mediation has increased in popularity; and gained acclaim during the 1980s and 90s. Mediation has become an effective way for disputes to be resolved.
Prior to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requirement, APHIS established an ADR process for the Equal Employment Opportunity Program designed to provide a means for resolving conflict in the workplace, especially in its earliest stages. More importantly, ADR serves as a mode to assist in fostering a better working environment in which everyone benefits.
Participation in mediation is voluntary and is offered in both the informal and formal complaint process. Any mediation held during the formal complaint stage, and the complaint is not resolved, continues in the complaint process. The focus of ADR is to bring the parties (the complainant and the designated resolving official) to the table in an effort to facilitate resolution discussions, leading the way to settlement, if possible. Every reasonable option is examined to assist the parties in resolving the allegation. The designated resolving official can suggest an offer of settlement at any time during the mediation process.
Complainants participating in mediation do not waive any of their rights by engaging in mediation. Participants are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner.
Prior to the mediation, the mediator will be provided a minimum amount of information. An intake sheet that will identify the issues (what was alleged to be discriminatory) and the basis (why the person believe discrimination is a factor). The limited amount of information provided is purposeful as it ensures neutrality and gives the parties the opportunity to obtain relevant information from one another.
Everyone should come to the mediation session as prepared as possible to participate fully in the process, including presenting any documentation necessary to support his or her position. Material information should include: dates, place, exactly what happened, responsible persons involved, identification of any persons who may have information regarding particular events, why the aggrieved person believe it was done, etc.
A work sheet is available to assist each participant identify this critical information.
Mediation is not a legal proceeding. No report or testimony, other than an actual resolution agreement, will be recorded/made or forwarded for any additional proceeding. All information conveyed during the mediation will be kept confidential, except those matters required by Departmental policy or by law, i.e., fraud, waste and abuse or criminal activity.