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Frequently Asked Questions - Alternative Dispute Resolution

What is the Alternative Dispute Resolution program?

Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR is an opportunity for confidential problem solving and quick resolution of workplace issues. The process used most frequently is called mediation and is conducted by a neutral third party, classified as mediators, who are trained in conflict resolution. In addition, the mediator is neither an employee advocate nor a management representative. As a neutral party, the mediator does not determine right and wrong or render decisions. The purpose of the ADR program is to identify the issues, reach a mutual solution, and restore the work relationship. ADR can also be used outside the EEO process.

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Who can participate in the ADR program?

Employees, Commissioned Corps. Officers, Fellows and *Contractors can participate in the program, if they have contacted the OEEO to discuss a situation or action that they perceive to be discriminatory. The EEO staff will determine whether an individual has standing the file an informal complaint. The ADR program is available during all stages of the EEO informal and formal complaint processes. In reference to issues unrelated to EEO, employees may contact the ADR office directly.

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Is the ADR Process Confidential?

Yes. The process is confidential. Only parties who need to know about the matter will be informed about the issues. Typically, this refers to those who are involved in the matter.

If you enter into mediation, the parties will be asked to review and sign a document called an Agreement to Mediate, which sets forth that the process is confidential. What is said, or exchanged during the mediation cannot used in other proceedings. If the matter is resolved, the terms are set forth in a resolution agreement, which is signed by the parties. The Office of Equal Employment Opportunity monitors the implementation of the terms.

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Should I file and EEO complaint or participate in the ADR Program?

If you believe that you have been discriminated against, you can speak to a representative on the EEO Complaints Team. If you decide to file an EEO complaint, you will also be given the opportunity to elect ADR.

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What about time lines?

When ADR is elected in the EEO complaints process, the processing timeline is extended from 30 days up to 90 days.

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What happens after an agreement is reached?

The mediator will write a resolution agreement that will be signed by each party. This agreement has the same effect as other EEO settlement agreements and will be adhered to and executed in accordance with Agency policies and procedures.

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What happens if an agreement is not reached?

If an agreement is not reached, the case is referred back to the EEO Complaints Team for further processing.

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