Once a charge of discrimination is filed with the EEOC, the process which follows is best described as a waiting game. However, in many cases, the EEOC will invite parties to engage in mediation with the mediator provided by the EEOC. The parties can also agree to mediate with a private mediator outside of the EEOC process. Mediation is a voluntary process but if the parties agree to engage in mediation, a negotiated resolution may be reached in a timely and efficient manner.
You need an employment attorney to speed up the mediation process and maximize your recovery at the mediation. Most charges of employment discrimination must be first addressed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before you can file a lawsuit (with discrimination in wages and benefits being the one exception). The time limits for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC are not extended as you attempt to resolve the dispute through internal grievance procedures, a grievance filed by your union, mediation, or arbitration outside of the EEOC process.
Know Your Right to Easy Resolution of Workplace Discrimination
Often, the first step the EEOC takes after you file a charge of discrimination is to invite the parties to try and resolve the conflict via mediation. If your employer agrees to mediate, you can often resolve the situation right then and there before it becomes a court case. In most cases, the employer is represented at the mediation by experienced counsel or other staff members who have been through the mediation process many times. Mediation is a unique opportunity to resolve the dispute on terms you and the employer agree upon. Without the help of an employment law attorney, mediation may not be as effective as it can be.
Goals of Mediation
Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is simply another, faster, less expensive way to resolve a claim than a long, drawn-out lawsuit. The primary goal of mediation is to achieve resolution. An agreement between you and the employer to resolve your claim can involve a policy change, and typically, it also involves a financial settlement on the part of the employer.
Why Mediation is Popular?
Documents are signed by all participants stating everything that is said at the mediation is 100% confidential. Not even other staff members at the EEOC (including those who will investigate your claims if mediation is not successful) will know what was said during the mediation.
Mediation is relatively inexpensive, because the EEOC provides the mediator free of charge. The process is much less formal than an arbitration or court process but still requires skill and confidence in your facts and legal positions to make the most of it.
The presence of an employment attorney will substantially increase your chances of getting a fair settlement and provide you with advice about your options during the process, the risks of further litigation, the relative strengths and weaknesses of your case and the employer’s defenses and, in the event the matter is not resolved at mediation, strategies on the next steps if the case needs to proceed to federal investigation and possibly a courtroom.
The entire goal of the mediator is to resolve the conflict – not to point any fingers. The mediator is truly in the middle, not on one side or the other.
Mediation & Legal Representation
The EEOC invites both parties – you and your employer – to participate in the mediation. It is not necessary that any lawyers are present, but it is a very wise idea. You need an experienced employment attorney to advocate for you and who knows how to negotiate the best possible outcome.
It’s All about Perspective
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we have extensive experience representing employees in EEOC mediation situations. Law is often much like a game of chess, and our law firm (through firsthand experience) understands the employer’s strategy and perspective.
Don’t sit across from your employer alone. Contact us for proper representation at your mediation.