Mediation Frequently Asked Questions

Why did JHU decide to implement a mediation process?

The University wanted to offer eligible staff a voluntary mediation process as a form of alternative dispute resolution or ADR to resolve workplace conflicts. To accomplish this goal, the Human Resources Department prepared a comprehensive proposal, including researching best practices among our peer institutions, most of whom had established a mediation process as an alternative way of resolving workplace disputes.

How is mediation defined at JHU?

Mediation is defined as a voluntary process by which the participants, with the assistance of a mediator share perspectives, identify disputed issues, develop options, consider possible solutions and seek to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute. Participants in mediation make informed and deliberate decisions to resolve past problems and discuss future relationships directly and confidentially.

How does mediation work at JHU?

The accompanying Mediation Process flow chart describes the key steps of the process, which usually starts with an interested staff member initiating a request to a Unit Based Workplace Mediation Coordinator for their area.

What are examples of issues that can be mediated?

Examples of issues that can be mediated include communication problems, personality clashes, dispute with coworkers, conflict with supervisors, and much more!

Am I a good candidate for mediation?

Mediation may be a good option for you if you want to help decide the outcome; you want to improve your working relationship with a co-worker or supervisor; you are willing to work toward a solution; you are willing to listen to the other’s point of view.

Who conducts the mediation process at JHU?

Once mediation is arranged, it is conducted by a peer JHU Workplace Mediator, a staff member who serves as an impartial third party to help the participants reach a mutually acceptable solution to their conflict. These mediators have been trained and credentialed by an outside organization, and are competent to assist the parties in facilitating the process and identifying possible solutions to their conflict. Mediation sessions will have two co-mediators, whenever possible.

What is the Mediator’s Role?

The role of the mediator is a facilitator of the communication process. The University has developed a pool of trained mediators from its on-campus staff who are neutral and unbiased with no stake in the outcome of the mediation process. They will listen as you explain the topics of the conflict; ask questions to help you and the other person clarify and understand the topics; remain impartial; guide you through a process to develop solutions; assist you in writing up an agreement that works for everyone involved; maintain confidentiality of the mediation session. The mediators will not take sides, assess blame, or tell you what to do. The mediator does not decide the outcome or impose a decision on the participants.

How long is the mediation session?

While there is no time limit on the length of the mediation process, sessions typically last 2-4 hours. The time spent in the mediation is governed by the complexity of the issues, the participants’ willingness to communicate openly and fully discuss the identified issues, and commitment to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution with the other participant. We strongly recommend that participants schedule no appointments on the day of the mediation.

Can I bring someone to participate in the mediation session?

No. The purpose of mediation is for you to work out a solution using the mediators as facilitators. Only the individuals involved in the workplace dispute may participate in the mediation session.

What assurance do I have about confidentiality during the mediation process?

Because the goal of mediation is to empower the participants to share information openly and honestly without fear of embarrassment or retaliation, the sessions are confidential. Thus, all participants in the process must treat as confidential all writings and communications made during the mediation attempt or in connection with the process, in accordance with our Workplace Mediation Procedures. There are some limited exceptions to confidentiality, for example, evidence of abuse, threats of physical harm to self or others, harassment, violent behavior, sexual violence, assault, misconduct, illegal discrimination, and/or criminal activity, or any information which JHU as an employer would be responsible to act on based on legal and/or policy obligations will be reported by the mediator to the appropriate JHU office for review and follow up.

Are there any policy or legal limits on reaching an agreement in the mediation process?

Any agreement based on a proposed resolution which comes out of a mediation process must conform to existing university policy and/or practice, and cannot supersede or contradict same. The parties who agree to accept an agreement which is related to previously filed appeal agree to close the appeal as part of the settlement agreement. Also, any proposed agreement involving an EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) complaint should be reviewed by the university Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) to ensure it conforms to applicable policy or law in this area.

What happens if the participants reach impasse in an attempt to resolve a conflict using mediation?

If the participants reach an impasse as the result of attempting to resolve their conflict through the mediation process, the mediation process ends at this point. However, they may have the option of utilizing the Appeal Process, assuming the mediation issue represents an issue permitted under the Appeal Policy (see scope of issues which are eligible to appeal under this policy) and this appeal has either been previously filed or is still timely to file under the policy.

What is the difference between an appeal and a mediation request at JHU?

Under our current policy, eligible staff may initiate an appeal (formerly known as a grievance) to register a complaint or contest a decision which they feel is unfair or conflicts with applicable policy e.g. a disciplinary action taken against them. However a mediation request to resolve a workplace conflict may have originated as an appeal (grievance) or it may simply be a mediation request which can be processed independent of the appeal process. Those staff who are considering filing either an appeal or mediation request should consult with Human Resources or check the applicable policy in reviewing their options to decide which path they elect to take.