The Human Affairs Commission offers many opportunities to resolve charges of discrimination. Successfully resolving the case through one of these voluntary processes may save you time, effort and money. Methods of resolution include mediation, settlement and conciliation.
The program is free, quick, voluntary and confidential. If mediation is successful, there is no investigation.
If the charge filed against your company is eligible for mediation, you will be invited to take part in the mediation process. If mediation is unsuccessful, the charge is referred for investigation.
Advantages of Mediation
- SCHAC's mediation program is free.
- Mediation is efficient. The process is initiated before an investigation begins and most mediations are completed in one session, which usually lasts for one to five hours.
- The average processing time for mediation is 84 days.
- The mediation program is completely voluntary.
- Successful mediation results in the closure of the charge filed with SCHAC. If mediation is unsuccessful, the charge is referred for investigation.
- Mediators are neutral third parties who have no interest in the outcome of the mediation.
- Mediation is a confidential process. The sessions are not tape-recorded or transcribed. Mediator notes taken during the mediation are discarded. Information learned during the mediation can not be used during a SCHAC investigation if the mediation is unsuccessful.
- Mediation is an informal process. The goal of mediation is not fact finding. The purpose is to discuss the charge and reach an agreement that is satisfactory to all parties.
- Settlement agreements secured during mediation are not admissions by the employer of any violation of laws enforced by the SCHAC.
- Mediation avoids lengthy and unnecessary litigation.
- Settlement agreements secured during mediation are enforceable.
- The overwhelming majority of employers and charging parties participating in SCHAC mediation program are satisfied with the process and would use it again.
- Mediation can help the parties understand why the employment relationship broke down.
- Mediation can help the parties identify ways to repair an ongoing relationship.
Charges of discrimination may be settled at any time during the investigation. SCHAC investigators are experienced in working with the parties to reach satisfactory settlements. You should contact the investigator if you are interested in resolving your charge through settlement.
Advantages of Settlement
- Voluntary settlement efforts can be pursued at any time during the investigation, but settling a charge early may save you the time and effort associated with investigations.
- Settlement is an informal process. The goal of settlement is to reach an agreement that is satisfactory to all parties.
- There is no admission of liability.
- If the parties, including SCHAC, reach a voluntary agreement, the charge will be dismissed.
- Settlement agreements are enforceable.
- Settlement avoids lengthy and unnecessary litigation.
SCHAC is statutorily required to attempt to resolve findings of discrimination through "informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion." See 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5. After the parties have been informed by letter that the evidence gathered during the investigation establishes that there is "reasonable cause" to believe that discrimination has occurred, the parties will be invited to participate in conciliation discussions. During conciliation, your investigator will work with you and the Charging Party to develop an appropriate remedy for the discrimination. We encourage you to take advantage of this final opportunity to resolve the charge prior to SCHAC considering the matter for litigation.
Advantages of Conciliation
- Conciliation is a voluntary process.
- Conciliation discussions are negotiations and counter-offers may be presented.
- Conciliation offers the parties a final opportunity to resolve the charge informally - - after an investigation has been conducted, but before a litigation decision has been reached.
- Conciliation agreements remove the uncertainty, cost and animosity surrounding litigation.