It is a dispute-resolution program that facilitates the timely resolution of employment-related differences that arise in the workplace. It’s offered as an alternative to the grievance policy, which doesn’t provide a process for the parties to create their own solutions.
Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution. It’s an informal process in which a trained mediator helps parties reach a negotiated resolution of the dispute. The mediator doesn’t decide who is right or wrong, and has no authority to impose a settlement. Instead, the mediator helps the parties jointly explore and reconcile their differences. The main reason Penn uses mediation is because we believe that the parties themselves are in the best position to resolve their concerns, and that communication may improve as a result of the process.
Yes. The University maintains strict confidentiality in the mediation program. The mediator and the parties must sign an agreement that they will keep everything that’s revealed during the mediation confidential. Mediation sessions are not tape-recorded or transcribed; notes taken during sessions are destroyed. Any records or other documents offered by either party during the mediation are also destroyed. Furthermore, in order to ensure confidentiality, the mediators are insulated from the University’s investigative and litigation functions (Human Resources, Ombudsman, Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity Programs, and General Counsel).
The mediators are members of the University community who are trained to mediate employment disputes. We have developed an on-campus pool of trained mediators who are neutral and unbiased, with no stake in the outcome of the mediation process.
No. Participation in mediation is voluntary. However, we strongly believe that disputes are more effectively resolved by the involved parties and so we encourage the resolution of disputes in this manner. Either party may decline to participate in mediation.
Mediation is usually offered to the parties after they have tried unsuccessfully to resolve the dispute within their school/center. In some cases, mediation is offered immediately in the hope that it will prevent the hardening of positions that can occur during a lengthy dispute.
Mediation is a very efficient, time-saving process. A mediated settlement may be reached in a single session that can last from one to five hours. More than one session may be appropriate or necessary.
Both parties to the dispute—usually the employee and the supervisor—should attend. The supervisor should be familiar with the facts of the dispute and have the authority to enter into an agreement with the employee.
No. Human Resources evaluates each dispute to determine whether it’s appropriate for mediation. We consider such factors as the nature of the case, the relationship of the parties, the size and complexity of the case, and the relief sought. There are specific issues that cannot be addressed in mediation:
Determination of base salary or salary increases
Claims of salary inequities, job grading, and classifications
Selection for jobs or reassignments
Decisions resulting in restructuring or position discontinuations
No. Since the entire mediation process is strictly confidential, information revealed during a session can’t be disclosed to anyone—including other University personnel. So, it cannot be used during any subsequent proceeding.
The University strongly believes that most disputes can be resolved using the Open Door Philosophy, Conference/Facilitated Meeting, or Mediation. However, when an issue can’t be resolved using those resources, a staff member may elect to file a grievance using the University’s Staff Grievance Policy.