Addressing Race and Cultural Conflict in Employment Mediation - Chapter 16 - AAA Handbook on Employment Arbitration and ADR - Third Edition
Johnnie Scott Jr.
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Johnnie Scott Jr. is a San Francisco-based mediator and arbitrator who serves on the American Arbitration Association's roster of neutrals. Previously, Mr. Scott served as an administrative judge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and as a commissioner of mediation with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. He also has worked as a mental health specialist and counselor.
Today, race and culture-related disputes, especially in the workplace, are often addressed in mediation. In contrast to litigation, mediation has proven to be one of the most cost efficient and socially beneficial methods of resolving workplace disputes. Mediation is a problemsolving process wherein a third-party neutral assists the parties to the dispute through structured negotiations. The neutral endeavors to aid the parties in analyzing their problems and generating solutions through the exploration of options.
While disputes always introduce interpersonal dynamics, in disputes alleging racial discrimination or cultural differences, there is also an intrapersonal component. This denotes that, in addition to dealing with the parties’ subjective feelings about each other, the parties must contend with their individual feelings and biases regarding the issues of race and culture. The intrapersonal component harbors the perceptions and stereotypical responses an individual has cultivated relating to other races and cultures. These perceptions and responses have sometimes been reinforced and fostered by social mores that either encourage such beliefs, or at the very least, do very little to engender acceptance of other racial and cultural groups in the broader social structure.