The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) offers Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve selected prohibited personnel practice (PPP) and USERRA complaints without the need for lengthy investigation. ADR often yields resolutions that are more creative and tailored to the needs of the parties as well as far less costly in time and money than traditional legal routes. ADR is completely voluntary. ADR consists of several alternatives to litigation. Among the processes included under the umbrella of ADR are mediation, conciliation, neutral evaluation and assisted negotiation. To date, most of the ADR conducted at OSC is mediation.
OSC mediators, who have extensive mediation training and experience in federal personnel law, conduct a mediation session at a mutually convenient time and location. If mediation results in resolution, the agreement is reduced to writing and becomes binding on both parties.
What is Mediation
Mediation is an informal process by which a neutral third party – the mediator – assists opposing parties in reaching a voluntary, negotiation resolution to the complaint. Mediation allows for the parties to discuss the issues raised in the complaint, resolve misunderstandings, explore areas of agreement, and ultimately incorporate those areas of agreement into a final resolution of the complaint. Mediation differs from other forms of dispute resolution in that the mediator has no authority to make any decisions; the decision-making power rests in the hands of the parties.
Mediation is confidential. Discussions between the mediator and a party may not be used against that party in the future should an agreement not be reached.
Once parties agree to mediation, OSC mediators, who have backgrounds in mediation and federal personnel law, schedule the mediation session for a mutually convenient time and location. If mediation results in resolution, the agreement is memorialized and the case is closed. If mediation does not result in resolution, the case returns to the Investigation and Prosecution Division or to the USERRA Unit for further investigation.