Federal Manager's Daily Report

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in recent years

has been pushing mediation as an alternative to formal


complaints processing, although acceptance of the process

has been below hopes. A recent study done for EEOC focusing

on an initiative with private sector complaints that is

similar to its program inside the government shed some light

on why that is so.

“The main, and overwhelming factor in an employer’s decision

to decline the offer of mediation was that the merits of

the case did not warrant mediation,” the study found–that

is the management side felt the case was not worth the

effort. A second, related factor, was that the EEOC “was not

likely to issue a reasonable cause finding,” it said–in

other words, that the management side would win in the

formal process.

Individual managers often express mixed emotions about

mediation programs at EEOC, the Merit Systems Protection

Board and other federal adjudicatory agencies. They like the

idea of speeding up and simplifying matters, avoiding the

formal complaint process that can absorb much of their time

and attention. However, they also often complain that top

management caves in on meritless complaints, sullying the

manager’s reputation even if the outcome doesn’t include any

formal indication that the manager was at fault.