George Reath, Jr., Esq. and David B. Harwi, Esq.

Would you be interested in resolving more than three-quarters of your company's EEO matters before a formal complaint is filed, often within two to four weeks?

Would such a program favorably impact your work force and your legal costs?

The United States Postal Service is implementing a program, called REDRESS, which is doing just that. We believe a similar program could be useful for many companies.

The statistics are compelling.

Eighty-six percent of the United States Postal Service’s EEO claims which are submitted to its REDRESS program are resolved before the employee files a formal complaint. More than 90% of the employees and managers who have been involved in the REDRESS process view the process favorably and more than 60% are satisfied with the results.

REDRESS is a program of early intervention in the process of an EEO claim in which the employee voluntarily submits the claim to mediation. The mediation is considered an “informal process in which a third party with no power to impose a resolution helps the disputing parties try to reach a mutually acceptable settlement.” However, settlement is not the goal of a REDRESS mediation. The mediation is seen as an opportunity for open, honest and respectful exchange in hopes of bringing about closure rather than settlement. The employee does not forfeit any rights by going to mediation.

The mediation occurs during the employee’s regular shift and the employee is paid while attending the mediation. The mediator is an independent contractor retained by the Postal Service to work in these disputes. The mediator has no obligation to reach a settlement.

This is not a traditional approach to EEO complaints. However, it works. Without the pressure to reach settlement the stakes of the mediation are lowered but closure occurs with tremendous frequency. The process permits manager and employee the dignity of resolving differences themselves. The result is not only closure but also an improved workplace environment at a minimal cost.

If you would like more information on a program for your business, call the mediators at Triage Mediation.

© Triage Mediation Services Inc. 1999

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