The EEOC has said it will continue to offer remote mediation in light of a series of independent studies that found that those involved consider it generally satisfactory and superior in some ways to in-person mediation.
“While our pivot to online mediation was necessitated by the pandemic, online mediation, like our in-person mediation program, has proven to be very popular and effective . . . The EEOC will continue to offer virtual mediation as an option for those able to participate virtually even after we resume in-person service to the public,” it said.
One of the studies “found that online mediation is easier to use and more flexible than in-person mediation; achieved similar or better quality and value of settlements for both parties; and increased access to justice for charging parties,” it said.
The studies included polling of mediators—some of whom are EEOC employees and others who are contracted—as well as both employers and individuals. Seventy percent of the participants said they would prefer online mediation to in-person mediation in the future.
“About 1 in 5 charging parties do not want to be in the same physical location as their employer and the virtual format provides “a safe space” for those participants,” it said, and the flexibility makes it more likely that employers will agree to mediation.
Among mediators, one of the studies said, advantages included greater flexibility in scheduling that increases chances of reaching a settlement, with 20 percent reporting higher settlement rates and only 9 percent reporting lower rates.