Frequently Asked Questions
All civilian and military employees within the organizational entities of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Agencies, and the DoD Field Activities serviced by Washington Headquarters Services (WHS). The CRP has been successful in facilitating resolution between employees, managers, senior leaders, working groups and full organizations.
Every case is unique, but Federal statistics show that when parties come to the table in good faith, mediation helps resolve approximately 70% of disputes.
More often than not, the other party feels the same way. The reality is that an experienced, professional neutral controls the process and flow of communication and creates a fair and balanced climate. This allows for respectful conversation and dialogue.
The presence of a neutral third party can have a profound impact on the dynamics. It removes power imbalances and puts all parties on the same playing field. Communication and understanding is often maximized because of this balanced and structured environment.
Nothing. The agency’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program was named the “Collaborative Resolution Program (CRP).”
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist often serves as the agency’s neutral, unbiased expert mediator. When necessary or as appropriate, neutrals are acquired from external sources in a cost-effective manner. CRP may partner with the DoD Roster of Neutrals (Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals), the Health and Human Services Sharing Neutrals Program, and/or the DoD Civilian Personnel Management Service Investigations and Resolutions Division (IRD).
The WHS ADR Specialist has the discretion to determine whether a given dispute is appropriate for ADR. In general, agencies may decide to offer ADR on a case-by-case basis, by issue, and/or by geographic location. However, agencies may not decline to offer ADR because of the bases involved in a particular case (i.e., race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or retaliation).
No. Mediation generally is not appropriate in cases when 1) A decision to set precedence is required; 2) The matter involves significant policy questions; 3) Rights of third parties cannot be addressed using ADR, and 4) Full public participation is important, and 5) the issue requires continuous oversight and adjustment. The ADR Specialist will recommend whether the case is appropriate or not, and refer cases as needed to the appropriate forum.
No. An agency's decision not to offer ADR for a particular case cannot be made the subject of an EEO complaint.
If a party tells the neutral something in private and asks the neutral to keep the matter confidential, the neutral is bound by law not to disclose this information voluntarily. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if a party confesses to the commission of a criminal offense, or to an act of fraud, waste, or abuse, or that the party plans to commit a violent physical act, the neutral may be required to share this information with appropriate authorities. If a judge determines that disclosure of private confidential discussions is necessary to prevent a manifest injustice, establish a violation of law, or prevent harm to the public health or safety, the neutral may be required by a court to disclose the private discussions.
Individuals serving as CRP mediators/facilitators have completed approved professional training as a neutral third party and agree to abide by established ethical standards. Given the complexity of cases handled by the CRP, only neutrals with advanced training, specialized knowledge and significant experience shall be assigned to such cases.
The length of the mediation session depends upon the complexity of the case and willingness of the parties to resolve the dispute. Most mediation sessions are completed in eight hours or less. We recommend parties set aside a minimum of 4 hours to dedicate to the resolution process.
Yes. The ADR process is voluntary and a participant may withdraw at any time.
No. Those who utilize the CRP are actively involved in their own solution. Settlement is the responsibility of the participants and not the neutral.
Yes, both in the informal and formal stage. Mediation is the most common ADR technique in EEO cases because it has been shown to be effective in resolving workplace-related disputes quickly, economically, and fairly. Mediation is a viable alternative to lengthy and often expensive administrative process of agency investigation, hearing, and appeal to the EEOC, or possible litigation in the courts. Parties are highly encouraged to consider mediation in EEO cases.
No. You have nothing to lose by attempting mediation. You retain the right to pursue formal avenues if settlement does not occur.
We recommend that you simply explain that mediation is a viable option with a proven success rate. Describe how it works and its benefits. Provide all informational materials and the ADR Specialist’s contact information. Parties must voluntarily choose to participate in mediation. If they are forced to the table, there is a lower likelihood of a successful outcome.
Yes. As a supervisor, you may suggest and encourage mediation as an alternative to discipline as an attempt to resolve underlying concerns.
As a supervisor, you have the prerogative to use appropriate, progressive discipline for improper behaviors and unacceptable performance in the workplace. However, an employee’s decision not to participate in an alternative dispute resolution process shall not be the focus of any disciplinary action.
Once the agency has determined that a matter is appropriate for ADR, it can decide who should represent the agency and can require the responsible management official, or the agency official directly involved in the case, to cooperate in the ADR process.
No. The CRP should not be confused with the dispensing of specific opinions on how to resolve. A neutral’s primary task is to help parties discover their own solutions and recognize their own freedom to act, rather than to take away their opportunity to act freely. Giving advice does not allow parties to independently discover unique options for resolution.
While it is not always necessary, both parties may bring a representative of their choosing to the mediation table. Since CRP neutrals do not provide opinions or advice about the merits of the case, a representative can often serve as a valuable feedback mechanism.
No. Neither the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act nor EEOC Management Directive 110 require settlement agreements to be confidential. Even when the parties specifically agree to keep the terms of their settlement agreement confidential, the details of the resolution must still be given to specific offices with a need to have that information, such as those offices that will implement the settlement.
No. Mediation and facilitation are the most popular methods, but they do not fit every situation. The ADR Specialist is available to discuss and help develop customized conflict resolution interventions as needed.
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