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EEOC launches new Web page on alternative dispute resolution

Federal employees can see how some government agencies resolve discrimination complaints on a new Web page launched last week.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has created a Web page with information on the federal alternative dispute resolution process, ranging from frequently asked questions about the program to the types of ADR techniques agencies use to handle discrimination complaints.

"This new federal sector ADR Web page will serve as a valuable online resource for federal managers, employees and applicants alike," said EEOC Chair Cari Dominguez. "It will assist federal agencies in implementing and improving their internal ADR programs."

Agencies have used alternative dispute resolution programs since the mid-1990s to cut the time and cost of traditional administrative and legal procedures used to resolve personnel and contractual disputes. Regulations requiring agencies to put ADR in place took effect in November 1999. ADR includes a wide range of techniques, such as mediation, fact-finding and arbitration.

The page provides users with basic information on the ADR program, such as when agencies can offer it, whether employees can withdraw after enrolling and contact names and numbers. It also describes the types of resolution techniques offered by agencies, including mediation, peer review and settlement conferences.

The EEOC also provides information on the appeals process and ADR training for managers and mediators.

The new Web page is part of the EEOC's broad effort to encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution in discrimination cases at federal agencies. Earlier this month, the EEOC and the Postal Service announced the first national alternative dispute resolution partnership between two federal agencies. Under the program, EEOC administrative judges will send nearly all requests for hearings in discrimination cases filed by Postal Service employees back to the agency for mediation to help foster faster settlements.

Administrative judges now settle discrimination cases in hearings and issue decisions within 180 days, but the new Postal Service-EEOC program promises to cut the time in half.

For more information on ADR, go to EEOC's Web site or contact the agency by e-mail at fed.adr@eeoc.govor by phone at 202-663-4599.