Fedweek

The EEOC is offering a new route for alternative dispute resolution in cases involving federal employees, in which the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will work to resolve cases.

Under an agreement between the two agencies, the EEOC will identify cases it believes are suitable for mediation by the FMCS and will work with the parties to pursue mediation there if they are willing. “FMCS mediators are located across the country, which allow them the flexibility to conduct mediations wherever there is a need,” said a joint announcement, which added that the EEOC “responsibility for the closure or continued processing of all cases.”

The EEOC said the arrangement will help it further reduce its long-standing backlog of complaints by federal employees under civil rights and other laws it enforces, which is down by 30 percent in the last two years. The agency already offered several in-house alternative dispute resolution programs—as do other agencies handling complaints from federal employees such as the MSPB and the FLRA—which are designed to avoid the often lengthy and contentious process of pushing a case to a formal decision.