Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that is offered by the Delaware Department of Labor (DDOL) as an alternative to the traditional investigative or litigation process. Mediation is an informal process in which a neutral third party assists the opposing parties to reach a voluntary, negotiated resolution of a charge of discrimination. The decision to mediate is completely voluntary for the charging party and the employer. Mediation gives the parties the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the charge, clear up misunderstandings, determine the underlying interests or concerns, find areas of agreement and, ultimately, to incorporate those areas of agreements into resolutions. A mediator does not resolve the charge or impose a decision on the parties. Instead, the mediator helps the parties to agree on a mutually acceptable resolution. The mediation process is strictly confidential. Information disclosed during mediation will not be revealed to anyone, including other DDOL employees.

How Mediation Works

A DDOL representative will contact the employee and employer concerning their participation in the program. If both parties agree, a mediation session conducted by a trained and experienced mediator is scheduled. While it is not necessary to have an attorney in order to participate in DDOL's Mediation Program, either party may choose to do so. It is important that persons attending the mediation session have the authority to resolve the dispute. If mediation is unsuccessful, the charge is investigated like any other charge.

Advantages of Mediation

Free
Mediation is available at no cost to the parties.

Fair and Neutral
Parties have an equal say in the process and decide settlement terms, not the mediator. There is no determination of guilt or innocence in the process.

Saves Time and Money
Mediation usually occurs early in the charge process, and many mediations are completed in one meeting. Legal or other representation is optional but not required.

Confidential
All parties sign a confidentiality agreement. Information disclosed during mediation will not be revealed to anyone, including other DDOL investigative staff.

Avoids Litigation
Lengthy litigation CAN be avoided. Mediation costs less than a lawsuit and avoids the uncertainty of judicial outcome.

Fosters Cooperation
Mediation fosters a problem solving approach to complaints and workplace disruptions are reduced. With investigation, even if the charge is dismissed by DDOL, the underlying problems may remain, affecting others in the workforce and human resources staff.

Improves Communication
Mediation provides a neutral and confidential setting where both parties can openly discuss their views on the underlying dispute. Enhanced communication can lead to mutually satisfactory resolutions.