Alternative Dispute Resolution is an “umbrella” term used for various types of dispute resolution models. Mediation is NASA’s preferred method of resolving disputes and is sometimes used interchangeably with ADR.
The goal of mediation is to provide an impartial and independent forum for parties to discuss a dispute, using a third-party mediator. If mediation does not lead to a successful resolution, an individual can file a formal complaint of discrimination.
The process calls for an individual to make contact with the Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor and provide basic information about the issues raised. The counselor then contacts the Dispute Resolution Program Manager regarding the assignment of mediation. If the request for mediation is approved (see below), a mediator selected from a list of local certified mediators will begin the process. If the request for mediation is not approved, the complainant can remain in the traditional EEO process.
Timing: An individual must bring an allegation of discrimination to the EEO Counselor within 45 days of the incident. If mediation is desired, the individual must inform the EEO counselor within five business days of the initial visit to select mediation. If approved, the mediator has 90 days to attempt to bring the matter to resolution.
Documentation: Proceedings of the mediation will be kept confidential among the parties in the mediation session(s). The only documentation from the mediation process will be a written resolution, if reached.
Fact-Finding: Limited fact-finding will be conducted by the mediator to the extent that it is beneficial for use in the mediation session, but no record will be kept.
Anonymity: It is not possible to remain anonymous during mediation.
Role of the Mediator: The mediator is a neutral party unaffiliated with NASA LaRC whose role is to facilitate communication and to help each side get a clearer understanding of the issues in dispute. The mediator is not an advocate for either side, nor is he or she a decision-maker.
Mediation Criteria: NASA LaRC OEOP will assess whether a particular dispute lends itself to resolution through the use of mediation and will review each case on an individual basis. Participation in the mediation process by all parties involved is completely voluntary.
Mediations will be led by local professionally certified mediators unaffiliated with NASA LaRC.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The foregoing should not be interpreted as interference with or discouragement of any individual’s right to seek relief through any statutory or regulatory grievance or complaint procedure. Employees involved in workplace disputes may have legal entitlements to raise issues through a formal grievance or complaint procedure. Formal procedures have time limits to take initial action. These time limits are not extended because an individual chooses to seek informal resolution of an issue through ADR. Employees who are unsure of their lawful rights and remedies are advised to seek counsel from their personal representative, legal representative, union representative, or Labor Relations Specialist, as appropriate.