top of page

Being Heard: Mediation

Hi, everyone. I'm back from my mini-hiatus. I've mentioned a couple of times the possibility of mediation services. So today, we will go over the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), which is a branch of the Federal Government that not many people are aware exists. Unfortunately, from my past experiences, I was ultimately unable to make use of their services. One of the major barriers preventing mediation from being an option is the requirement that both parties have to agree to the terms and conditions. If either you, or the opposing party do not wish to have mediators involved, then there's no way to move forward with this.

Mediators bridge the gap between conflicts. Use them!

I will basically go over the process that is involved if this does become a potential option for you. If you have to negotiate an agreement or a contract at all, I wouldn't recommend doing it by yourself. Your institution's human resources are looking out for number one, and even if they might say that they are trying to reach a reasonable compromise, the fact is, you're going to be outnumbered in such a meeting, and the scale is going to be tipped against you. The other alternative to a mediator is hiring a lawyer, although understandably, this can be an expensive option, that some people are realistically unable to afford. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of using a mediator, compared to alternatives is that it is, for the most part largely free. Most importantly, it gives you the one thing you need most when trying to settle a case internally, as opposed to finishing with an outside agency. Namely, it levels the playing field.

This sounds all well and good, but how exactly does it work? You start off by finding the FMCS website, which is provided below:

The best place to start while you're here, is to click on the link on the right-hand side of the homepage which entitled, "Find a Mediator". Similar to the OFCCP, you will need to get in touch with someone that is within your district or area. Just fill out the form on this page, and you should be provided with a list of mediators that are within your area. On the form page, there are also general phone numbers for the regional offices. If you prefer not to speak with a specific person, you can start off more indirectly, by finding the office which corresponds to your area, and contacting them first.

Personally, I would recommend completing the form, and copying the list of contacts that are populated into a *.txt file, and going through them one-by-one. If the first person you call seems promising (they answer or return your call promptly, don't seem busy, and generally seem polite and friendly to you), then you won't need to bother with anyone else. However, if anything seems "off" about the potential mediator, remove them from your list, and go onto the next person, until you find someone that are comfortable with to be in your corner. Remember when I said earlier that if you give your institution an inch, and they'll take a mile? Make sure you level the playing field, and go into negotiations with at least one ally you can trust to be on your side. Do not assume that anyone representing your institution will be fair and impartial.

After you find someone that you are happy with, the next logical step is to approach your institution and request mediation services before any meetings can happen. Many employers will look at this like their powers are being stripped away from them, and they will be quick to refuse your request for a mediator. However, if you can get them to agree to your quest, and sign a mutual consent form (it will have your signature on there as well), then you can reach back to the mediator that you screened previously, and set a date for the mediation to take place that works for you, your mediator, and your institution. Having a mediator in your corner will effectively safeguard you against any slippery little thing your company may try to weasel past you. Your human resources department is depending on your lack of knowledge and experience to take advantage of you. They will come up with ideas/policies that seem harmless on the surface, but will have hidden loopholes that are hard to detect by the layman. Your HR department will also use any and all words you speak against you, and you will need someone to speak up and defend you when this happens.

Perhaps the biggest weakness with this services is it is conditional. The major hurdle you will have to overcome is convincing your employer that it is in their best interests to allow you to have a mediator on your side. Be firm. If your institution tries to fast-talk you out of having a mediator, do not fall for it. Refuse to hold a meeting. Proceed with the investigation if you have to. Don't agree to, or sign anything. By refusing mediation services, your institution is clearly showing an act of bad faith. You don't have to acquiesce to them, just because they give you a pittance.

That is all for today's post. I am not quite sure what to post tomorrow, but I do have some ideas. In any case, stay tuned, and look forward to it!

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page