In general, mediation is a process that helps two conflicting parties resolve their differences.  This is usually done outside of the formal court process, through the assistance of a “mediator”.  A mediator is a person or agent who is neutral and helps the parties to communicate with one another.

In an employment setting, employment mediation is meant to help resolve disputes like employment discrimination, workplace harassment, wage and overtime disputes, and termination issues.  It can be a less costly alternative to litigation for those parties that are willing and able to participate in the process.

Who Can Act as a Mediator?

The mediator between the parties needs to be neutral, meaning that they are not interested in profiting either side.  For most employment mediations, a state-appointed representative will usually act as mediator.  This is because most employment disputes are resolved by filing with a state employment dispute agency.  The agency may then prescribe mediation as an option for the parties.

Alternatively, a professionally trained person can act as mediator between the parties.  This may include persons such as lawyers, counselors, or advisors.  This is usually the case if the mediation is being done in connection with a private lawsuit. 

Are the Results of Employment Mediation Binding on the Parties?

In most cases, the direct result from employment law mediation may not be completely legally binding on the parties.  These may consist mostly of transcriptions of each party’s statements, containing important facts involved in the claims.   Any results or decisions reached by the parties and the mediator usually still need to be submitted to the court.  They will be reviewed or will become part of further litigation. 

After this, the court may decide to convert the results of the mediation results into a formal court order, which would be legally binding on the parties.  Thus, employment mediation is more like a preliminary stage in the entire process; it usually forms an initial starting point for actual court decisions. 

Also, if the parties reach an agreement, they can settle the matter based on the mediation by creating a contract (such as one involving repayment terms for losses).   This contract would be binding if it followed all the requirements for a legal contract in that state. 

How Can I Request Mediation?

You can request mediation by filing a complaint with your state’s employment department.  The department will review your claim and may begin investigating your workplace dispute case.  In most cases, the department may suggest mediation as an option if they feel it is appropriate in your case.  Again, this is usually an optional process rather than a mandatory one.  If you feel that mediation would work well for your claim, you may also wish to request it directly from the department’s representative. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Employment Mediation?

Employment mediation laws and rules can be very different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.   It is to your advantage to hire a qualified employment lawyer if you need assistance with the employment mediation process.  Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and can represent you during meetings to ensure that your rights are being protected.