After an employee files a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), mediation may be the next step for the employee and employer in seeking a resolution to their dispute. While mediation is sometimes required by an employment contract, the employee and the employer can also voluntarily agree to mediate their dispute.
Investigation of a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC
For example, before the employee’s charge of discrimination proceeds to the EEOC’s investigation phase, the employee and the employer can choose to participate in a voluntary mediation program offered by the EEOC at no cost to the parties.
Typically, the EEOC will invite the employer to mediate before the employer is required to submit a detailed response to the agency. In fact, participating in mediation may toll the deadline for the employer’s response to the charge of discrimination that was filed by the employee. Therefore, choosing to mediate at this stage in the process can be cost effective and less time consuming for the employer.
Benefits of Mediating a Charge of Discrimination
Additionally, mediation can be extremely beneficial for both the employer and the employee. Mediation gives both parties the opportunity to be heard by a neutral third-party, the mediator, and to discuss their respective positions.
Unlike court records which are generally available to the public, mediation is confidential, and the parties can avoid disclosing personal or private information about the alleged claim. If the mediation is successful, both parties will save the time and money associated with ongoing litigation, including attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Should the mediation not be successful, the charge of discrimination will proceed to the investigation phase with the EEOC, and the employer must provide the EEOC with a position statement. An employer should consider discussing the EEOC’s invitation to mediate the dispute and preparing a position statement with an attorney who is familiar with the process.