BARRIERS TO MEDIATION - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 55, No. 1
Arup Varma is an associate professor at the Institute of Human Resources and Industrial Relations, Loyola University Chicago, and a senior research fellow with the Center for Employment Dispute Resolution.
Lamont Stallworth is a professor at the Institute of Human Resources and Industrial Relations, Loyola University Chicago, the chair of the Center for Employment Dispute Resolution, and a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. He is a past president of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution and currently co-chairs SPIDR’s ADR in the Workplace Committee.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
A Look at the Impediments and Barriers to Voluntary Mediation Programs That Exist Within the EEO
Over the last two decades, there has been a substantial increase in the number of EEO lawsuits and charges relating to workplace disputes being filed. This has led to the search for alternative methods of resolving such disputes. Voluntary mediation is one such alternative—however, it is underutilized in EEO and other types of disputes. In this article, Arup Varma and Lamont Stallworth show the results of a survey they conducted in order to find out why voluntary mediation is not being used as much as it should. And they discuss how the barriers that exist might be overcome to increase the use of mediation in EEO disputes.
It has been said that “too few disputes settle, and too many that do settle drag on far too long.”1 Although this statement was made within the broader context of bargaining impediments and settlement behavior, the concerns expressed by those researchers are also applicable to the impediments and barriers related to the utilization of agency-connected voluntary EEO mediation programs. The purpose and objective of this article is to examine empirically those factors which EEOC disputants believe are significant impediments or barriers which might explain the underutilization of EEO mediation programs offered at the administrative agency level.2
Legislative and Public Policy Context
One of the most significant societal events and public policy changes which occurred during the last half of the 20th century was the racial and gender integration of the workplace.3 The integration of the workplace, and indeed the general society was prompted, in large part, by the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education,4 the civil rights movement of the 1960s5 and the subsequent enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.6
The cornerstone of Title VII was the principle that cases of discrimination were to be resolved by the use of “conciliation” prior to any court litigation.7 Thus conciliation, as a matter of public policy, was foreseen by Congress as an effective method to resolve EEO disputes.
The period following the passage of Title VII brought with it the enactment of a number of other federal and state antidiscrimination and EEO statutes. These statutes included but were not limited to such legislation as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and the Pregnancy Act of 1978, just to name a few.