Questions and Answers about Workplace
What is the Workplace Mediation Program?
The Workplace Mediation Program was begun by the Office of Fair Practices to
give employees another tool to use to resolve disputes which happen in the
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal yet structured process in which a neutral third person,
called a mediator, helps disputing parties work through and resolve conflicts.
The mediator does not give legal advice or decide how the dispute should be
resolved. The mediator guides parties through a process in which they discuss
the issues, generate options for resolving the dispute and design an agreement
that meets their respective interests. Mediation offers the opportunity:
To be heard
To develop new ways of dealing with a dispute
To create your own solutions(s)
To save time, expense and the distress of living with unresolved conflict
Participation in mediation is voluntary for all parties, and the information
shared during a mediation session is intended to be regarded as confidential by
the parties and will not be revealed to anyone outside the mediation session by
the mediator. Depending on the terms of any agreement reached by the parties,
those terms may need to be reviewed and approved by the agency/department, the
Employer/Employee Relations Office or the affected collective bargaining unit.
How is mediation requested?
A request for mediation can occur whenever the parties believe that mediation
might help resolve a given dispute. Anyone may suggest mediation as an option.
All parties must agree to participate in order for a mediation conference to
How does the mediation process work?
Once a completed and signed request for mediation form is received by the Office
of Fair Practice, the parties are asked when they can meet and a mediator is
assigned. Most mediation sessions will usually be within one to two weeks.
Who may attend the mediation session?
The number of participants at each mediation session will be kept to a minimum
in order to enhance effective problem-solving. In addition to the persons
directly involved in the dispute, it may be desirable to include others with
responsibility or authority for carrying out the terms of any agreement reached
or persons having knowledge of the partiesí needs or specialized knowledge of
the issues in the dispute. Parties may choose to bring a support person to the
mediation session. The primary purpose of the mediation process, however, is to
allow the parties to talk directly with each other and try to resolve their
differences with the help of the mediator The Parties must agree on who can
attend the session.
How long does a mediation session take?
Mediation sessions will be scheduled for two hours. Depending on the complexity
of the issues and the number of participants, mediation could require more than
What occurs during the mediation session?
The mediation session consists of several stages:
Introduction-the mediator reviews his/her role and explains the
ground rules covering confidentiality, the use of caucus (meeting separately
with each party), and other procedural rules. The mediator then outlines what
will happen during the session and responds to the participantsí questions.
Sharing Points of View/Defining Issues- parties are given an
opportunity to define the issues from their point of view. The mediator may ask
questions to clarify or summarize what has been said.
Caucus- the mediator may use caucus, which is a chance for each
party to meet privately with the mediator, to clarify issues and discuss
Discussion of Options for Resolution- the mediator helps the
parties to identify a wide range of possible solutions, test those solutions and
explore the consequences of not settling the dispute.
Agreement- if there is an agreement, the mediator will help the
parties write it down. If agreement is reached, each party will receive a copy.
Any other distribution of the agreement will be decided by the parties during
the mediation. If the session does not result in an agreement, the parties are
free to pursue any of the options they had before entering into mediation.
What types of disputes can be mediated under this project?
General workplace disputes such as: disputes between coworkers;
supervisor/employee disputes; work team conflicts.
Who are the mediators?
Mediators are employee volunteers given special training to mediate workplace
disputes. To assure neutrality and confidentiality, mediators will not be
assigned to cases within their own units. Often two mediators will be assigned
to facilitate the discussions.