EEOC Chair Berrien Advocates Mediation in Private Sector

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By Tripp Baltz


DENVER--Jacqueline A. Berrien, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, urged attendees at an employment law training session Aug. 27 to encourage private sector employees to take part in the commission's mediation program, saying the program has been very successful in resolving employment discrimination cases.

“For those of you who are not in the program, we encourage you to do so,” Berrien said, speaking at the 2013 EEOC Examining Conflicts in Employment Laws (EXCEL) Conference. “If you are not, you may be asked [by claimants] about mediation.”

According to EEOC, the EXCEL conference is “the premier Federal training conference for EEO managers, supervisors and practitioners.”

Berrien said there is a very high rate of satisfaction among parties to mediation, which she described as a “way to resolve cases quickly and without litigation.” She said some 96 percent of participants have said they would use EEOC's mediation program again, and in the past year, the commission settled more than 9,000 of the roughly 11,000 cases in the program.

Although participants view the program favorably, the percentage of employers agreeing to mediate is considerably lower than the percentage of charging parties agreeing to mediate, she said.

“People who file charges are three times more likely to say they will participate in mediation than employers,” she said. EEOC is encouraging employers to enter into universal agreements to mediate (UAMs).

She cautioned that mediation is not appropriate in every case, especially cases that “deal with systemic discrimination or problems.”

In her remarks, Berrien also described the objectives of EEOC's 2012-2016 strategic plan. For example, she said the commission is focused on using strategic law enforcement to fight employment discrimination.