You’re here because you either have a pending discrimination complaint, or you are anticipating one. Whether you are an employee-complainant or employer-respondent, you probably have several questions. We will try to help you understand the process and guide you to the next step on your conflict resolution journey.
Resolve workplace conflicts holistically and create the peaceful and productive work experience we all want.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a private dispute resolution process that allows you to select a neutral third party to help you, but the mediator’s role is very different from the role of an arbitrator or judge. The mediator will not make any decisions for you. There will be no determination of facts or blame. Instead, the mediator will help the parties identify the root causes of the dispute, what you all need to happen, and how to get the results you want. Ideally, you will reach an agreement settling the case. If not, nothing you discuss during the mediation can be evidence in arbitration or at trial. So, you are free to explore possible resolutions without adverse consequences.
Common Conflicts Resolved through Mediation
- Conflicts among department or project managers
- Discrimination and sexual harassment complaints
- Employee attendance or performance disputes
The power you have over others isn’t the power you think you have. It’s the power that other people think you have.
~ Dr. Woo-Kyoung Ahn, Yale University
How Does Mediation Differ from Litigation?
The primary difference between mediation and litigation is the process. Unlike at trial, the focus is not on:
- Evidence proving the facts
- Liability or blame
We do not look to the past to figure out who the bad guys are so we can punish them. Instead, we focus on the future. Our goal is to create a mutually-agreeable plan that resolves the current dispute. We also consider ways to reduce the risk of a similar dispute.
How Does Mediation Differ from Arbitration?
Arbitration works a lot like going to court. The arbitrator(s) will review the evidence, including testimony, and decide how you the parties will resolve the complaint, based on what the arbitrators believe happened. For example, your employer might be directed to pay you money or reinstate your employment, if the arbitrator(s) believe you were discriminated against. If they believe your employer treated you fairly, you might receive nothing. Fortunately, most employers pay your share of the arbitration process, except for your attorney’s fees.
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Starting the Mediation Process
You can request mediation at any stage of the conflict resolution process.
- If you have not yet filed a complaint with your employer, you can suggest mediation to your supervisor or Human Resources Department. You might need to file a complaint to get them to prioritize your issue, but you might also find that approaching your employer with a complaint and a request for a process to find a mutually-agreeable resolution also gets their attention.
- If you have already filed a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the New York State Division of Human Rights, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, mediation is available through that agency. Contact your case administrator for more information.
- If you are an employer who has received a discrimination or sexual harassment complaint and want to propose mediation, request a consultation to see if we are a good fit.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Mediation?
No, but you might want to consult one before you agree to mediation. As an employee, it might put your mind at ease and help you protect your rights to litigate if you don’t reach a settlement agreement in mediation. As an employer, your insurance contract might provide you with legal counsel. Your coverage might also require you to consult counsel before proceeding.
Where Can You Find a Lawyer?
When we are not eligible to mediate an employment dispute, we sometimes represent complainant-plaintiffs or respondent-defendants in mediation before administrative agencies and the court of the Southern District of New York. If you are an employer, you might have insurance coverage that provides legal counsel for the mediation. Check your insurance policy for a “Duty to Defend” clause.
For representation beyond the mediation, we typically refer parties to the below attorneys:
There might also be free or low-cost services available to some parties through: