Per the agreement, all eligible charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC naming Albertson’s as the employer will be referred to the EEOC’s mediation unit, as appropriate. The company will designate a corporate representative to handle all inquiries and other logistical matters related to potential charges in order to expedite a prompt scheduling of the matter for EEOC mediation, according to a news release.
This marks the eighteenth National Universal Agreement to Mediate (NUAM) that EEOC has recently entered into with a large employer attempting to informally resolve workplace disputes prior to an agency investigation or litigation. Recently, the federal agency annouced an expansion of its mediation program (SeeEEOC Expands Mediation Program).
Expanding mediation is a key component of Chair Cari Dominguez’s Five-Point Plan to improve the EEOC’s overall operational efficiency and effectiveness. In addition to the 10 NUAMs, EEOC district offices have entered into nearly 300 mediation agreements with employers at the local and regional levels within their respective jurisdictions.
The EEOC sees NUAMs as a step in the right direction, with benefits that include:
- shortening or eliminating the initial step of contacting the employer to see if they will mediate a particular charge
- establishing points of contact for the employer, thus expediting the flow of information between the EEOC and the company
- fast tracking the information through established contact points, which facilitates the scheduling of the mediation session.
- demonstrating at the outset a company’s willingness to mediate on cases eligible for mediation; this may contribute to the ultimate satisfactory resolution of the matter
- providing for flexible agreements that allow parties to opt out of mediation on a case-by-case basis if either believes the claim is not appropriate, thus protecting a key component of the program – voluntariness.
Under the EEOC’s National Mediation Program, first implemented in 1999, EEOC has conducted more than 44,000 mediations, resolving over 30,000 charges and obtaining over $400 million in benefits with an average processing time of 86 days. In total, EEOC maintains contractual relationships and work-sharing agreements with over 90 FEPAs nationwide to process discrimination charges filed against private employers or state and local governments.