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Resolving Disputes Through Mediation, Equal Employment Opportunity

HQ EEO >> Dispute Resolution

If you have an EEO dispute with your employer, you may be offered mediation services. Mediation can often resolve the dispute more quickly and inexpensively than investigation or litigation. Mediation may be offered at any point in the dispute process, including after you have filed a formal charge of discrimination.

Mediation is an informal, confidential process for resolving disputes by using an impartial third-party (the mediator) who meets with the employer and employee. The mediator has no decision-making authority, but rather tries to assist the parties to resolve their dispute. Participation in mediation does not constitute an admission of any violation of the laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Sometimes mediation is the best way to preserve or build a better working or parting relationship. To participate, parties need only be open to the possibility of resolution.

Generally neither party to a dispute is required to participate in mediation, or to agree to a resolution; an agreement to mediate is an agreement to work in good faith with the other party toward a solution. Mediation typically includes an opening session, followed by a joint meeting of the parties, fully and fairly allowing both the employer and the employee to explain their point of view and to listen to the other party's point of view. Through private and joint meetings with the mediator, the parties attempt to develop and evaluate options for reaching agreement. When an agreement is reached, usually it is memorialized in an enforceable, written document signed by both parties.

Each party may have an attorney, friend, relative or other support person present at the mediation. If you are not able to reach resolution through mediation, then you may still pursue any legal claims or defenses you have preserved. The mediator is a neutral facilitator, not either party's advocate. The mediator will try to help both parties identify their interests and ways to achieve desired outcomes.

Here are some key questions for parties to consider in preparing to participate in mediation:

  • What are the main issues of concern to you? What are the main issues of concern to the other party?
  • What are your goals for the mediation? What are the goals of the other party?
  • Who are the key players in the dispute?
  • What obstacles might there be to having a productive session?
  • What will happen if the dispute is not resolved through mediation?
  • Is there anything you need to help you participate in the process?


DHS is pleased to have contract support to assist in mediation for DHS Headquarters employees.  If you feel mediation might be a tool you wish to use, please contact Carl Lucas at or by calling (202) 245-1131.

Last Published Date: July 6, 2015

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