Workplace Mediation

On average, annually, Law & Mediation mediates 200-250 workplace complaints involving alleged violations of of the Americans with Disability Act [ADA], Family Medical Leave Act and Equal Employment Opportunity [EEO] laws, sexual harassment, retaliation, bullying, intimidation, disrespectful communication and interpersonal conflict. Resolutions are achieved in over 88% of our workplace mediation cases. Mediators at Law & Mediation also provide training and one-to-one coaching geared towards workplace issues including but not limited to conflict resolution, respecting differences, understanding different workplace behaviors and learning techniques for effective communication, introduction or reaffirmation of workplace policies and legal responsibilities for the workplace.

Impartial Way to Resolve Disputes
Without Litigation

More Cost Effective Than Legal Remedies

It's Not About Conflict.
It's About Finding Solutions.

Mediators can be utilized to address interpersonal conflicts between staff and management.  Mediation has been used to address allegations of discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying, grievances for discipline and legal claims involving terminated or current employees who believe that they have been subjected to illegal discrimination and or retaliation.  For example, an existing employee may claim that their supervisor is harassing them. An employee who was terminated or denied promotion may claim that these actions were based on or that the actions constitutes discrimination based on: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (Title I) disability, ADA Title VII race, color, religion, national origin, pregnancy or sex, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) age, The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) genetic information. Additionally, under Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act an employee could claim that they were retaliated against because they complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Lastly, a terminated employee may allege that he or she has been wrongfully terminated and that the termination was unfair or without good cause. (link to each definition below)

Disputes in the workplace have the potential to cause significant damage to a business.  A single major employment dispute can result in the erosion of substantial assets because of legal fees, potential jury awards, loss of productivity and negative by creating a negative impact on a business’ public image due to negative publicity and or social media coverage. Oftentimes for the employee stressors from work are carried over into their personal lives on both a financial and an emotional level. Employees may find themselves living in debt or experiencing a level of depression making it difficult to perform their daily tasks.  These stressors also impact the employees’ quality of life and/or the lives of family members. Businesses cannot afford to neglect the impact that these same stressors place on the businesses management and the impact it has for these managers and on the productivity and profitability of the business.  Mediation often produces solutions in a matter of only a few hours or days; saving both time, money and minimizes the emotional stressors associated with litigation. The mediation process is confidential keeping discussions and settlements outside of the public eye and oftentimes is a confidential settlement between management and the employee thus avoiding damage to the company’s and/or the employee’s image.

Mediation is an informal yet structured process in which a neutral third person helps Management and Employees openly discuss the issues that they are encountering at work from their own perspective, understand each other’s perspective, work through any communication, stereotyping, understanding issues and resolve conflicts. This open discussion often helps the parties recognize each other’s views and better consider how the dispute might be resolved, and more importantly how to avoid a similar situation occurring in the future. The parties, rather than the mediator, have the power to decide whether and how issues can be resolved.

 

Mediations may be conducted on or off site on a case by case basis or as part of a comprehensive Conflict Management program. When disputing parties are given the opportunity to participate in a mediation session, not only do they gain a better understanding of the conflict, but they also develop a better ability to communicate with each other. In the end, conflicts in general are reduced as communication is improved. This leads to a better workplace environment.

Workplace Mediation also offers an opportunity to

 

  • address conflict quickly and effectively (oftentimes in a couple of hours)
  • improve employee morale and teamwork
  • maximize performance, productivity and profits
  • retain valuable employees

 

 

Managers spend a large percentage of their workday resolving conflicts. Some of the conflicts they may encounter are simple misunderstandings over rules, policies and responsibilities. Conflicts are also created from personality clashes, value and goal differences, performance issues, differences over methods, lack of cooperation, authority issues, frustration and irritability, and competition for limited resources and opportunities.

 

Yet another form of frequent conflict stems from the use of language and individual interpretation. For example, “I need this done right away” could mean stop everything and do this immediately or it could mean complete this project by the end of the day. Without asking for clarification tensions increase and conflicts and misunderstanding may occur. As a result, conflict resolution is an essential skill for the efficient functioning of the work environment.

 

Many individuals view conflict as counter-productive, however, conflict may be positive and beneficial in that it can clarify goals, relieve tensions, open communications and resolve problems or explore potential problems. In its negative form, conflict can divert energy away from real tasks, decrease productivity, reduce morale, prevent cooperation, aggravate minor differences, polarize points of view, encourage irresponsible behavior (including sabotage of resources or equipment), generate suspicion and mistrust, obstruct communication, increase tension and stress, obscure goals, and result in loss of valuable human resources.

 

There are many benefits to utilizing the mediation process to resolve conflicts in the workplace. Mediation encourages each party to listen and understand the other’s position; it promotes real communication, minimizes personality conflicts, structures interactions to prevent interpersonal conflict, reduces stress, and encourages mutual compromise. It allows feelings to surface, validates concerns, promotes individual responsibility and encourages cooperation and friendship. Mediation is confidential and is future-oriented. It is less concerned with deciding who was right or wrong than with finding solutions to the problem(s) so that it does not occur again. The focus in mediation is on practical solutions, and on the emotional issues, which may need to be aired even when they cannot be resolved.

Additional Practice Area Information

Age
Disability
Genetic Information
Harassment
Pregnancy
Race, Color, Religion, National Origin or Sex
Retaliation
Sexual Harassment
Age

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination because of age. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Disability

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state and local governments. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

Genetic Information

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. Genetic information includes information about an individual's genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual's family members, as well as information about any disease, disorder or condition of an individual's family members (i.e. an individual's family medical history). The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Harassment

Harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA), is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws. Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people. Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.
Pregnancy

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Race, Color, Religion, National Origin or Sex

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants' and employees' sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

Retaliation

Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 make it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the federal government. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

Sexual Harassment

Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.