Mediation at the EEOC: A Management Attorney’s Advice

Workplace disputes are complicated, whether they involve legal liability, typical politics, or what initially appears as an ongoing debate on who drank the last bit of coffee without putting on a new pot.  When the dispute involves matters of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation, the matter may involve the employee and the employer spending time with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC is the federal agency charged with enforcing certain civil rights laws in the workplace.  Annually it publishes the number of charges it has received and the kinds of claims that were made.  Tens of thousands of charges are made each year.  As part of the processing of these charges and investigation of the claims, the EEOC has the opportunity to offer the employer and employee mediation in which it – the EEOC – will also be a party (albeit sometimes a silent party) to the mediation session.

Mediation is a time where the parties may be able to work out their differences, set things back on course, or otherwise resolve the dispute.  A recent article from a management-side attorney offer employers advice on whether to mediate through the EEOC’s process and the prospect of “settling.”  The article begs the question of whether mediation is a useful prospect if the employer (or perhaps any party) is not willing to do something, give up something, or say something as a fixed and unmovable position.

Mediation, however, sometimes is the place where information may be obtained early enough in the process to re-evaluate staunch positions…and make informed and wise decisions before further damage occurs or dollars, time, and resources are spent…on either side of the “v.”

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Workplace Investigation Training Module I – Atlanta, Friday, September 28th

One Mediation provides Human Resources professionals, in-house counsel and risk managers with engaging, active training on conducting an internal, workplace misconduct investigation.

Module I provides a strong foundation on the role of an investigation in resolving concerns, along with specific activities geared towards interviewing witnesses professionally and competently.  Module II is a practicum for attendees to work through the components of a workplace investigation, through to a mock deposition, with immediate feedback from Labor & Employment litigators.   Registrants may choose to attend only Module I; though completion of Module I is a pre-requisite to registering for Module II.  The agendas for Module I and for Module II are available.

Credits through HRCI are available.

REGISTRATION:
Module I is offered in Buckhead on September 28, 2012, starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 4:45 p.m. Early Bird Registration ($295) closes August 30, 2012. Regular tuition: $395.00.
Module II Practicum is offered on a Friday/Saturday format. In 2012, it is offered two times: June 22-23 and again October 5-6. Regular tuition: $995.00 (Early Bird: $825).
Registration for both Module I and the Module II Practicum is $1,300 (Early Bird $1,100).
FACULTY:
Faculty include Lorene Schaefer, Esq. and Jennifer Keaton, Esq.  These attorneys and workplace investigators have significant Labor and Employment litigation experience regarding EEOC Charges, Sarbanes-Oxley Charges, tort claims, and internal grievances that involve concerns of harassment, discrimination, bullying, poor leadership/supervision, and whistleblower and retaliation concerns. They put their litigation and investigation experience to work with these active-learning seminars.
Call One Mediation for more information (404-720-0599) or visit them online.

What Goes On At Divorce Mediations? Sample Agenda Here.

Mediation is a confidential process.  This confidentiality can make mediation seem mysterious, inaccessible, and even scary when it involves divorce.  Save family lawyers and divorce mediators, most individuals facing divorce are uncertain about the divorce process that occurs in open court.

The unknown is often feared.  Thus, the secrecy of mediation, generally viewed as a positive attribute, can be its own worst enemy particularly in the divorce context.   Dispelling some of the mystery, a sample agenda for a divorce mediation can be accessed here.

To learn more about divorce mediation, there are mediation coaches and frequent seminars offered by One Mediation.  Call 404-720-0599 to register for upcoming seminars or to schedule an appointment with a mediation coach.

Attorney Too Smart for Her Own Good in Her Own Divorce?

Electronically stored information is a hot button issue in litigation.  It may be even hotter in divorce matters where evidence of infidelity often is found in emails, text messages, voice mail messages and more.  Obtaining these various forms of information is tricky business because of a variety of state and federal laws that govern unauthorized access to them.

A case in point came down in Tennessee in July 2012 where the wife, who also was an attorney, had installed certain “spyware” on multiple computers that her husband used.  When she found evidence of his infidelity, the gloves came off in the divorce proceedings where infidelity would make a significant difference to her share of the marital assets under a pre-nuptial agreement.  The bottom line:  the court was not impressed with her actions.

The old saying “Know Before You Go” is applicable in the world of electronics.  Know what is and is not legal when accessing electronically stored information by speaking with an experienced attorney.  And recognize the value of such information being disclosed in a divorce mediation prior to protracted litigation that ends up being the subject of multiple blogs.

 

 

Divorce Seminars for Couples and Individuals (Metro-Atlanta)

Uncertain where to begin with separation or divorce?  Divorce for many people is a journey through uncharted territory.  Even hiring an attorney to help you can be an overwhelming experience.  It can be isolating, confusing, and stressful.

The amount of information on the internet about divorce is enormous, and sometimes the information conflict (the laws governing divorce differ from state to state).   Don’t surrender; get good information at seminars like these:

Below is a quick listing of some upcoming Atlanta Divorce seminars and more:

July 28, 2012 – Collaborative Divorce Seminar (Buckhead) – Co-Ed

August 18 & 25, 2012 – How to Mediate Your Divorce – (9 a.m. – Noon/Buckhead/$35) – Co-Ed

August 18 & 25, 2012Divorce Mediation & Arbitration Before You File – (12:30 – 1:30 p.m./Buckhead/$15) – Co-Ed

September 18, 2012Speeddivording: Fast Info from Pros – Early Bird Rate/Buckhead

August 4th & October 13, 2012Bankruptcy & Divorce: Which to File First? – Buckhead (call 404-720-0599)

October 26-28, 2012 – Divorce Survival School Weekend – (Overnight/Payment Plans Available) – Women Only

November 10, 2012 – Divorce 101 (Seminar for Men) 

Parenting Seminars (which satisfy certain court requirements) – Newnan/Carrollton AreaDouglas & Nearby CountiesCobb CountyFulton CountyDeKalb CountyGwinnett County.   Dates vary and are held frequently each month.  Usually $30 – Keep Your Certificate of Completion!

Divorce Consulting/Mediation Coaches.  These divorce mediators help individuals facing divorce get ready for mediation, answer questions about the process, prepare and prioritize for negotiations and working out solutions, and sort through ideas on “how to make it work” during the changes of separation and divorce:  JoAnne DonneAndy Flink, and Jennifer Keaton.

Local Certified Divorce Financial Analysts and Financial Neutrals.  These individuals help get your financial records in order, uploaded, and analyzed with an eye to division, taxes, budgets and more:  Lisa DeckerAnitha Rao.

When the Rejected Seeks Revenge: When Sexual Harassment Is Both Quid Pro Quo & Retaliation

A North Dakota judge recently became a poster-child for why workplace romances often are banned:  natural human emotions often prompt unlawful or “high liability risk”  reactions.  In this case, which this article excerpts key portions of the investigation’s report, a judge’s efforts to date a court reporter were rejected.  In response, the wounded feelings of the judge apparently resulted in his misuse of his position and authority to “get her back.”

Apparently, the judge continued to pursue the court reporter by calling her into his chambers, emailing her to talk, etc.  Ultimately,the investigation noted, the court reporter emailed the judge:

“We are COWORKERS. Start acting like it! You are making me hate this job and feel ill having to come here because I don’t want to deal with you,” the woman wrote in a June 29, 2011, email. “There is no ‘problem,’ other than that I didn’t go along (with) your advances so now you are trying to make up problems to try and get rid of me, just like you told me you would do (get rid of me) if this were a private law firm.”

In one email, the court reporter summed up the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace.  When the advance is unwelcome, the advances should stop.  When they don’t stop, the pursuit can create a hostile work environment.  Additionally, when the pursuer is spurned and then attempts to make the workplace unpleasant for the person, the conduct smacks of quid pro quo (“this for that”)sexual harassment because the benefits of employment are adversely affected – essentially making good on the threat that the person will only get to work in continued peace, on a regular and fair playing field if the person consented to the sexual advances.

Worse yet, the “revenge” for not accepting the advances is retaliation and, likely, unlawful retaliation.

In this case, the judge retained his position, but it appears that he will be heavily supervised moving forward and minimal contact with female co-workers will occur.  It is likely that the fall-out for this judge has just begun and that he can expect local lawyers to request his recusal on cases that involve sexual matters, harassment, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.

Workplace Investigations & Poor Leadership

Poor leadership is bad business.  It also can create bad press, increase liability risks, and result in the loss of talented and well trained employees.   A North Dakota law enforcement agency is a recent example:  http://bit.ly/LpV0ft

Employee’s internal complaints can be an early warning system for employers, if they are prepared.  Too often, employers treat internal complaints as just a “run-of-the-mill” employee gripe or grumble.   A prepared employer is prepared to address employee concerns rather than sweep them under the carpet.

Employers who are concerned about their workforce are prepared to handle the grumble, along with the high stakes concerns shared by employees.   Responding to these concerns appropriately can make a huge difference in the amount of liability risks that an employer may face, particularly when problems are identified and solved well-before they might escalate into an attrition problem or a law suit.

Workplace Investigations into employee concerns can be performed by an appropriate employee or by an external, independent investigator.  Their review of the issues are commensurate with the scope of the complaint and often can uncover the actual cause of the problem, identify the symptoms of the problem, and ways to correct the problem or avoid the consequences in the future.  Whatever the outcome, workplace investigations sometimes involve business analysis and solutions – as did the recent North Dakota investigation – that can assist an organization with a more positive and solutions-focused future.

Workplace Investigation Training Module I – Atlanta, June 15th

One Mediation provides Human Resources professionals, in-house counsel and risk managers with engaging, active training on conducting an internal, workplace misconduct investigation.

Module I provides a strong foundation on the role of an investigation in resolving concerns, along with specific activities geared towards interviewing witnesses professionally and competently.  Module II is a practicum for attendees to work through the components of a workplace investigation, through to a mock deposition, with immediate feedback from Labor & Employment litigators.   Registrants may choose to attend only Module I; though completion of Module I is a pre-requisite to registering for Module II.  The agendas for Module I and for Module II are available.

Credits through HRCI are available.

REGISTRATION:
Module I is offered in Buckhead on June 15, 2012 and September 29, 2012, starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 4:45 p.m. Early Bird Registration ($295) closes 30-days before the session. Regular tuition: $395.00.
Module II Practicum is offered on a Friday/Saturday format. In 2012, it is offered two times: June 22-23 and again October 5-6. Regular tuition: $995.00 (Early Bird: $825).
Registration for both Module I and the Module II Practicum is $1,300 (Early Bird $1,100).
FACULTY:
Faculty include Lorene Schaefer, Esq. and Jennifer Keaton, Esq.  These attorneys and workplace investigators have significant Labor and Employment litigation experience regarding EEOC Charges, Sarbanes-Oxley Charges, tort claims, and internal grievances that involve concerns of harassment, discrimination, bullying, poor leadership/supervision, and whistleblower and retaliation concerns. They put their litigation and investigation experience to work with these active-learning seminars.
Call One Mediation for more information (404-720-0599) or visit them online.

SpeedDivorcing: It’s Not What You Think (June 19th, Atlanta)

Individuals who face the divorce process often are tacking it for the first time…and after the fact, wish they had known certain things at the start of things.  Had they just known this one piece of information, they might have made much better decisions about how to proceed, they might have been able to evaluate a settlement offer more effectively, etc.  Had they just KNOWN….

The bottom line is that having good information is critical to ensuring that wise decisions are made for the family and the  future of the post-divorce family.  This is where SpeedDivorcing comes in!

SpeedDivorcing is an educational event that provides divorce information from professionals to individuals who are contemplating the divorce process or who are in the early stages of divorce in a “small group” setting.  The event begins with a panel discussion and then moves into a “round robin” format where attendees rotate through each of the professionals in a short, one-on-one session.  At the end of the session, attendees will have information that helps them avoid common pitfalls of divorce and that assists them with assessing what kind of information or services are available to them and that may serve their needs.

Getting good information about divorce quickly could never be more timely than right now for families in transition.  Meet the panelists and learn more about this June 19, 2012 event (next offered in September 2012) by clicking here.

Best Buy’s Workplace Investigation: Quick, Effective, Newsworthy

Best Buy recently received and published highlights from an investigation in to several allegations of misconduct by higher level executives and others.  The lessons from this investigation are still to be culled, but the bottom line is that the company responded swiftly to unsavory allegations, a response that has left them in control of fixing the problem(s), responding credibly to employees, customers, and shareholders with lemonade rather than lemons, and demonstrating a commitment to values-based leadership.

Is your company prepared to respond promptly, credibly, and with integrity to allegations of misconduct?  Ensure that your Risk Management team is prepared.  One Mediation can help through its workplace investigation training modules, professional investigators, and training offerings.