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Alternative Dispute Resolution Overview


The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) offers Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve selected prohibited personnel practices (PPP) and USERRA complaints that have been filed with OSC. Selected cases are referred to OSC’s ADR Unit for review. If the ADR Unit determines that a case is a good candidate for mediation, an OSC ADR Specialist contacts the complainant and the employing agency to invite them to participate in the mediation program. If both parties agree, OSC will assign mediators who will work with the parties to prepare for and schedule a mediation. If mediation results in resolution, the agreement is put into writing and becomes binding on both parties.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is an informal and flexible process in which a neutral third party - the mediator - assists the opposing parties in reaching a voluntary, negotiated resolution of the complaint. Mediation is different from other forms of dispute resolution in that the parties participate voluntarily, and the mediator has no authority to make a decision. The decision-making power rests in the hands of the parties.

Mediation is a free, voluntary, and confidential dispute resolution process that provides an alternative avenue for resolving OSC complaints.  It gives both parties an opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the complaint outside of a formal hearing context.  In mediation, the parties have a guided forum within which to understand each other's needs and concerns and explore creative options for settlement beyond the formal remedies OSC can obtain through litigation.  Mediation helps identify areas of agreement and ultimately incorporate those areas into a final resolution of the complaint.​

For more information, please see our Fact Sheet on How OSC's Mediation Program Works​​​

Note: You will see in the video below references to OSC's Complaints Examining Unit (CEU).  OSC recently reorganized and the functions previously performed by the Complaints Examining Unit (CEU) are now being performed by the Investigation and Prosecution Division (IPD).  IPD staff now conducts preliminary assessments and refers cases to ADR.​

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