EEOC's Federal Dispute Resolution
EEOC Reports On Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Federal Sector Complaint Process
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a comprehensive new study examining the effectiveness and efficiency of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs used by federal agencies to resolve job disputes. The 38-page report, ADR in the Federal Sector EEO Process for FY 2006, is available on the EEOC's web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/adr/adr_report_2006/index.html.
The report, which presents government-wide data (as submitted by agencies), addresses types of ADR techniques, sources of third party neutrals, and types of settlement benefits in the pre-complaint and formal complaint stages of the federal sector process. The report expands on the ADR information provided in the EEOC's Annual Report on the Federal Work Force for Fiscal Year 2006.
"We are pleased to report on the successful implementation of ADR programs government-wide," said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. "ADR techniques such as voluntary mediation avoid the cost, delay, and unpredictability of the traditional adjudicatory process, while yielding thousands of amicable resolutions to workplace disputes."
According to the EEOC's report, ADR use among agencies has remained stable at 45% during the pre-complaint stage of the EEO process for federal employees. The vast majority of ADR attempts utilized mediation as the ADR technique of choice and neutrals from private organizations as the major source of mediators. In FY 2006, ADR efforts resulted in 5,808 counselings receiving settlements including $980,798 in monetary benefits. For ADR settlements with monetary benefits, the average benefit for FY 2006 is $2,352.
During the formal complaint stage, the ADR participation rate increased from 2.6% in FY 2005 to 5.5% in FY 2006 and agencies selected mediation as the primary ADR technique and in-house neutrals as the major source of neutrals. With regard to the ADR attempts completed in the formal complaint stage, the ADR resolution rate increased from 68.2% in FY 2005 to 69.5% in FY 2006. As a result of the ADR process in FY 2006, complainants in 313 complaints received a total of $3,554,975 in monetary benefits for an average of $11,358.
Carlton Hadden, Director of the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations, said, "This reports shows that federal agencies are increasingly embracing ADR, which often results in mutually beneficial outcomes for all parties."
Hadden added, "The Commission has been at the forefront in promoting ADR techniques among federal agencies in order to address employment disputes early in the complaint process. The use of ADR is an important tool for agencies to promote best practices and create model EEO programs in accordance with Commission regulations and guidance."
In 2000, the EEOC required all federal agencies to establish or make available an ADR program during the pre-complaint and formal complaint stages of the EEO process (29 C.F.R. Section 1614.603). This regulation requires agencies to make reasonable efforts to voluntarily settle discrimination complaints as early as possible throughout the administrative process.
EEOC Management Directive 715 (MD-715), issued October 1, 2003, provides policy guidance to federal agencies for establishing a model EEO program. To become a model EEO program under MD-715, agencies must operate their EEO programs efficiently and take proactive steps to prevent unlawful discrimination from occurring. Agencies are required, among other things, to maintain an efficient, fair, and impartial complaint resolution process. An integral part of establishing a model EEO program is the effective use of ADR to resolve disputes.