WASHINGTON - Two publications addressing how to ensure that mediation of equal employment opportunity disputes is accessible to people with disabilities were released by several government agencies this week.
The three organizations working together include the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Council on Disability (NCD) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
"More than ever, employers and employees are turning to mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution to resolve EEO disputes," said EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez, who has made expansion of voluntary mediation a top priority. "These new materials will help ensure that the benefits of mediation can be available to everyone."
The documents, entitled Questions and Answers for Mediation Providers:
Mediation and the Americans with Disabilities Act and Questions and Answers for Parties to Mediation: Mediation and the Americans with Disabilities Act, address the obligations of all private and public sector mediation providers, including employers that offer their employees mediation as a benefit of employment. The documents are written
in a question-and-answer format and consider topics such as:
- types of reasonable accommodations that may be necessary to make mediation accessible to people with disabilities;
- best practices for ensuring that mediation is accessible;
- the confidentiality of medical information disclosed during mediation; and,
- recommended types of ADA training for mediators.
"These documents will enhance the use of mediation by people with disabilities
to resolve employment disputes and will highlight the importance of
reasonable accommodation in the alternative dispute resolution process,"
according to NCD Chair Lex Frieden. "NCD is pleased to combine with EEOC and DOJ
to use our experience and expertise in providing technical assistance
on disability issues in the mediation of employment discrimination disputes."
Both EEOC and DOJ have successfully used mediation to further their respective
missions and to enhance customer service. More than 35,000 charges
of discrimination have been resolved through EEOC's private sector mediation
program - the largest workplace mediation program of its kind in the country - since it was launched in 1999.
The Department of Justice, through a contract with the Key Bridge Foundation, refers for mediation complaints it receives under Title II and Title
III of the ADA. An increasing number of people with disabilities
and disability rights organizations are specifically requesting that
the Department refer their complaints to mediation. Under the
contract with Key Bridge, more than 400 professional mediators, fully
trained in the legal requirements of the ADA, are available nationwide
to mediate these cases. Over 75 percent of the cases in which
mediation has been completed, have been successfully resolved.
"Mediation is an important and effective option for achieving positive resolutions of ADA complaints," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Department's Civil Rights Division. "Our mediation program continues to be enormously successful in producing tangible benefits for the participants."
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