Mediation is a confidential and informal alternative to filing a sexual harassment or discrimination lawsuit. The two parties in an employment dispute meet to resolve their differences with the help of a neutral mediator. The mediator encourages the two parties to communicate their perspectives and concerns, and works with them to reach a satisfactory agreement. If you file a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you may be contacted with the opportunity to participate in mediation. The choice to mediate is completely voluntary: if either party refuses to mediate, then the charge will be given to an investigator who will determine whether unlawful activity occurred. After the investigation is completed, the employee may choose to file a lawsuit. Benefits of mediation There are several benefits to participating in a mediation session with your employer. Whereas a lawsuit may be costly, stressful, and time-consuming, mediation is free of charge and usually results in an agreement in less than three months. Once the two parties arrive at a settlement agreement, their decision will have the same weight as a court’s decision. If the two parties are unable to result their differences through mediation, then the charge is goes to investigation like any other charge filed with the EEOC. Because mediation involves discussion and mutual agreement, it provides the employee and employer with the opportunity to find a solution that is uniquely suitable for their needs. This may result in a positive outcome for both parties. Lastly, while trials are public and may be reported in the media, mediation is completely confidential. Do you still need a lawyer? Legal representation is not strictly required during the mediation process, but may be a key factor in determining the outcome of an agreement. Knowing the law may help you obtain the maximum recovery for which you are entitled. Most employers bring lawyers to mediation, so employees should consider seeking representation of their own in order to ensure that that they are not taken advantage of. An additional reason to consider having a lawyer is that although EEOC mediators are trained to be neutral, they differ in terms of skill, experience, and personal biases. If you end up with a mediator who is inexperienced or not completely neutral, you need an attorney who can fight for your rights. The lawyers at Akin Law Group are experienced at mediation If you are considering engaging in EEOC mediation, contact the Akin Law Group at 866.685.5163 for help. Our lawyers have extensive experience with mediation, and can help you attain the optimal results from the process.