Commission Votes to Incorporate Alternative Dispute Resolution into its Charge Processing System; Defers Decisions on St

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					The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Fri., April 28, 1995 CONTACT: Claire Gonzales Reginald Welch (202) 663-4900 TDD: (202) 663-4494

PRESS RELEASE 4-28-95

COMMISSION VOTES TO INCORPORATE ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION INTO ITS CHARGE PROCESSING SYSTEM; DEFERS DECISIONS ON STATE AND LOCAL AGENCIES
WASHINGTON -- On April 25, 1995, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) adopted the recommendations of the agency's Task Force on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR Task Force), laying the groundwork for the use of mediation-based ADR to enhance EEOC's charge processing system. The recommendations were presented at a special Commission meeting by Commissioners R. Gaull Silberman and Paul Steven Miller, co-chairs of the ADR Task Force. The Commission's actions regarding ADR complement the fundamental changes to the charge processing system adopted by the Commission on April 19, 1995. "ADR is an idea whose time has come, and the Commission's formal recognition of ADR as a valuable tool in the effort to eliminate employment discrimination comes not a moment too soon," said EEOC Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas. "While ADR is not a panacea for all of the EEOC's operational challenges, I am sure that it will play a significant role in the reinvention of this agency." The ADR Task Force's recommendations were presented at the third in a series of special Commission meetings to consider the proposals of task forces headed by EEOC commissioners. The task forces were created by Chairman Casellas in November 1994 to reinvent and streamline agency operating procedures. On April 19, the Commission adopted recommendations presented in the form of motions by the Task Force on Charge Processing (CP Task Force), chaired by Vice Chairman Paul M. Igasaki. Chairman Casellas followed up by giving specific directions to agency heads to expedite many of the CP Task Force's recommendations to improve charge processing systems. On April 24, 1995, the task force on EEOC's relationship with state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPA Task Force), chaired by Commissioner Joyce E. Tucker, made its recommendations to the Commission. All commissioners expressed their strong support for the general principles of the FEPA Task Force's recommendations, which addressed a wide variety of needed improvements in the existing EEOC-FEPA contractual relationship. However, due to the size and complexity of the task force's report and recommendations, the Commission agreed to defer voting on specific recommendations to allow for further study and consultation. In their joint presentation to the Commission, ADR Task Force co-chairs Silberman and Miller said they developed their recommendations largely through extensive consultation with a wide range of ADR experts, interested individuals and organizations, as well as veteran EEOC staff. The task force began its work by examining many of the most well respected studies on ADR, including the ADR sections of Vice President Gore's National Performance Review and EEOC's year-long Pilot Program on ADR. "By making the ADR option a feature of EEOC's charge processing system, we can better serve our constituents," Commissioner Silberman said. She added that "crafting an ADR system built on principles of fairness and protection of statutory rights, will better serve our law enforcement mission." With an eye toward conserving limited agency funds, Commissioner Miller said ADR will "facilitate early resolution where agreement is possible. That frees up our resources for use in identifying, investigating, and litigating more complex cases of employment discrimination."

The following motions were made at the meeting by Commissioners Silberman and Miller and adopted by the five-member Commission:
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The Chairman shall develop and implement a comprehensive ADR program containing three essential principles: informed and voluntary participation at all stages until an agreement is reached, confidential deliberations by all parties, and neutral facilitators during all steps of the mediation process. EEOC's Office of Legal Counsel shall submit to the Chairman by May 30, 1995, a proposed policy statement on ADR for Commission consideration. To ensure that an ADR program begins in fiscal year 1996, and upon approval of the EEOC ADR policy statement, the Chairman shall solicit proposals from EEOC District Offices that wish to participate in the implementation of the ADR program. The EEOC Legal Counsel shall submit a proposed policy statement for Commission consideration stating the Commission's support of efforts by employers to develop voluntary internal ADR programs that are fair and credible. The proposed statement will also emphasize the Commission's opposition to programs that make agreement to binding arbitration of employment discrimination disputes a pre-condition for getting or keeping a job, or that attempt to preclude an individual's right to have EEOC process their charge.

Based on the Commission-adopted motions, Chairman Casellas directed several implementation actions to be undertaken immediately by EEOC staff. Among those actions are for the EEOC General Counsel and the Director of the Office of Program Operations (OPO) to include ADR techniques as part of the draft National Enforcement Plan to be submitted to the Chairman by June 30, 1995. He also directed EEOC District Office officials to include ADR programs in their Local Enforcement Plans to be submitted to EEOC headquarters by August 1, 1995. In addition, the Chairman instructed agency officials to begin immediately to develop plans for training EEOC legal and enforcement staff in ADR concepts, to formulate educational materials explaining ADR to all entities affected by EEOC's charge processing procedures, and to survey appropriate outside groups and institutions for available mediators who might serve on a pro -bono basis. EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; sections of Civil Rights Act of 1991; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government.

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Description: US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release Concerning Commission Votes to Incorporate Alternative Dispute Resolution into its Charge Processing System; Defers Decisions on State and Local Agencies (April 28, 1995)