Mediation: Alternative to traditional EEO counseling

Cheryl Neal-Green
Equal Employment Opportunity officer
415th Base Support Battalion

***image1***Army employees now have a new avenue to redress complaints, issues and concerns.
The Department of the Army has adopted a new Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy to resolve claims at the lowest level.
In its new regulation, AR 690-600, the Army has outlined its new ADR program using facilitated mediation as the preferred method.
Other options still include filing a grievance with the local union or through the administrative grievance system, filing an Inspector General complaint or pursuing the concern through Equal Employment Opportunity.
The ADR process had proven successful in reducing formal complaints, employee grievances and employment litigation.
Therefore, mediation is available at the informal and formal phases of the EEO administrative complaint process.
Mediation is a form of ADR that is offered as an alternative to traditional counseling in the informal phase and as an alternative to the investigative process in the formal.
It is a process in which a neutral third party assists two opposing parties to reach a voluntary, negotiated resolution of a claim of discrimination.
Mediation gives the parties the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the complaint, creates a safe environment for discussion, clears up misunderstandings, finds areas of agreement and ultimately, incorporates those areas of agreement into resolution.
Mediation is fair and neutral. Parties have an equal say in the process, and the parties decide the settlement terms, not the mediator.
There is no determination of guilt or innocence in the process.
It is not a court hearing, nor is it a legal or psychological counseling service.
It is referred to as “no fault conflict resolution” because the goal is to reach a solution fairly and quickly; not to decide who is right or wrong.
Any employee who wants to enter into the EEO complaint process will have an option to choose traditional counseling or facilitated mediation.
The 415th Base Support Battalion ADR program fits into the core principles of voluntary, neutrality, confidentiality and enforceability.
The mediator will listen to all sides of the problem, ask questions about what happened in order to get the facts, assist the parties in developing possible solutions, not take sides, respect the confidentiality of all parties and not place blame.
Mediation promotes a better work environment, reduces costs and works for everyone.
For more information about mediation, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Web site at or contact the 415th BSB EEO Office at 489-7195.