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CASE INCIDENT 2 Mediation: Master Solutionto Employment Disputes?We typically think of mediation as the province of maritalcounselors and labor strife. More organizations use mediationto resolve conflicts than you might think. In fact,in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, andIndia, mediation is growing rapidly as a means to settle employmentdisputes. We introduced mediation in this chapter;let’s look at some examples when it has succeeded andwhen it has failed.Mediation has often succeeded:? Many states have experimented with mediation as analternative to traditional trials to resolve legal disputes.The state of Maryland found in a pilot program that58 percent of appellate cases could be resolved throughmediation and that mediation was both cheaper andfaster than a traditional courtroom resolution.? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC), the federal agency that oversees employmentdiscrimination complaints in the United States, usesmediation extensively. Safeway, the third-largest U.S.supermarket chain, uses the EEOC to mediate numerousemployment disputes. Says Donna Gwin, Safeway’sDirector of Human Resources, “Through mediation,we have had the opportunity to proactively resolve issuesand avoid potential charges in the future. We haveseen the number of charges filed with EEOC againstus actually decline. We believe that our participatingin mediation and listening to employees’ concerns hascontributed to that decline.”However, mediation doesn’t always work:? In 2008, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and theAlliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers(AMPTP), representing some 350 studios and productioncompanies, engaged in prolonged negotiationsover a new labor agreement. The negotiations failed,and the parties agreed to mediation. However, mediationalso failed, and in response SAG asked its membersto approve a strike authorization.? When David Kuchinsky, the former driver for NewYork Knicks center Eddy Curry, sued Curry for sexualharassment, discrimination, and failure to pay $93,000in wages and reimbursements, the parties agreed tomediation. However, after the sides failed to reach asettlement during mediation, Kuchinsky reinstated hislawsuit, and Curry filed a $50,000 countersuit.Questions1. Drawing from these examples, what factors do youthink differentiate occasions when mediation was successfuland when it failed?2. One successful mediator, Boston’s Paul Finn, arguesthat if the disputing parties are seeking justice, “It’sbest to go somewhere else.” Why do you think he saysthat?3. Do you think a mediator should find out why the partieswant what they want? Why or why not?4. The EEOC reports that whereas 85 percent of employeesagree to mediate their charges, employersagree to mediate only 30 percent of the time. Why doyou think this disparity exists?
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