Publication 902 - Mediating a Formal EEO Complaint with the USPS REDRESS® II
January 2002

 

REDRESS II is the Postal Service’s transformative mediation program for formal EEO complaints. It is voluntary unless ordered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Postal Service pays for external professional mediators and employee participation is on the clock. Participants may bring a representative to assist them and offer advice during the mediation. A Postal Service attorney or representative usually attends the mediation along with the supervisor or manager. If a settlement is reached, it reflects the parties’ own decisions. The settlement, once signed, is binding on both parties and the EEO dispute is withdrawn. If no settlement is reached, the employee has the right to continue through the formal complaint process, which may include a hearing.

Q: What is transformative mediation?

A: The transformative model of mediation is based on the belief that the disputing parties themselves are best able to decide whether and how to resolve their dispute. The mediation is aimed at supporting the parties as they make decisions and allow them to recognize the reasons for others’ actions. The transformative model is consistent with the goals of the REDRESS program; it supports improved communication between supervisors and employees and avoidance of unnecessary litigation.

Q: What does a transformative mediator do?

A: A transformative mediator operates from the belief that conflict presents opportunities for individuals to change (transform) their interactions with others. Parties can take advantage of these opportunities in mediation by exercising their capacities for both decision-making and understanding. The mediator encourages the parties to decide what to discuss and to set their own agenda. The mediator can be expected to summarize discussions, clarify issues, and promote confidence in making decisions. The mediation is considered successful when the parties gain greater clarity and better recognize each other’s perspective. Often, this leads to resolution of the dispute.

Q: What will a transformative mediator refrain from doing?

A: A transformative mediator will not take an active role in the decision making process. He or she will not push the parties towards settlement, even if he or she knows how the case can be settled. He or she will not suggest whether one party’s case is weaker or stronger than the other’s. He or she will not comment on the status of the law or company policy.

A transformative mediator will not discourage the parties from exhibiting their emotions. When they see a party’s emotional response, others can better understand the impact of words and actions. The mediator also will not dictate what topics or issues are discussed in mediation. His or her duty is to assist the parties with the process, not the content of the mediation.

Q: Who is the mediator? How are mediators paid?

A: REDRESS contracts with private, experienced, professional mediators who are not Postal Service employees. The Postal Service absorbs the cost of the mediators.

Q: What is the role of the representative in mediation?

A: Representatives provide support to the parties and help them clarify and articulate their concerns. In transformative mediation it is customary for the parties to speak with each other while the representatives serve as resources for advice and counsel.

Where to go for more information and help

COUNSEL FOR DISPUTE RESOLUTION

UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE

475 L'ENFANT PLZ SW RM 6514

WASHINGTON DC 20260-1150

Redress@usps.com

Tips for preparing a client for a transformative mediation

Representatives report that it is helpful when they do the following:

Explain the transformative mediation process:

Mediation is not a trial; there is no judge and there are no witnesses. The process is informal, and the parties make their own decisions. The length of the process is hard to predict; it is over when the parties decide they are finished.

Review the Agreement to Mediate:

When the Agreement is reviewed ahead of time, parties have an opportunity to ask questions in private and learn what to expect.

Explore confidentiality concerns:

With limited exceptions, the mediator is obligated to refrain from disclosing information learned at mediation. According to EEOC Management Directive 110, nothing said or done in mediation is admissible against a party during a later EEOC proceeding.

Explain the transformative mediator’s role:

The mediator is an external neutral who facilitates a conversation between the participants and helps the parties to clarify issues and reach decisions. The transformative mediator offers no legal advice, makes no decisions, does not lead the parties toward any particular outcome, and does not determine right and wrong.

Explain the representative’s role:

Representatives act as a resource, advisor, and facilitator for their party. They offer support, and, when an attorney, provide legal advice.

Explain the party’s role:

Each party has the opportunity to present his or her views and hear the other party’s views. When parties approach the process honestly and with an open mind, they have a better chance of resolving their differences.

Review the date, time, and place of the mediation:

It is important to verify that parties and representatives have the same information.

Tips for advising a client during a transformative mediation

A representative in transformative mediation serves as a resource, advisor, and facilitator. Parties are given the opportunity to discuss what they feel to be most important to them, even if that information does not appear to be legally relevant to their claim. Representatives provide support to their parties and speak for them when necessary to protect a legal right or to clarify issues.

Parties often seek advice on the following issues:

Appropriate conduct during mediation:

Effective mediation participants share information, actively listen, behave credibly, and are able to empathize with each other.

The Agreement to Mediate:

Parties and their representatives may want to review the Agreement to Mediate before attending the mediation. Such a review provides the parties an opportunity to ask questions and clarify concerns before the actual mediation.

Guidance in presenting the case:

Mediation is most effective when the parties participate directly — voicing their views and asking questions. Parties should be encouraged to present their own short opening statement highlighting their personal views. They should be advised to listen carefully to the other side and the mediator. Parties should also understand that they can speak with their representative privately whenever they choose.

Settlement options:

It is generally useful to consider a range of potential outcomes. Parties should be open to the possibility of additional opportunities for resolution arising at the mediation.

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