Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Mediation is a process where a trained and certified neutral helps people in conflict come to a resolution of their dispute. There are three things about mediation that you should know:
- Mediation is voluntary
- Mediation is confidential
- Mediation is facilitated by neutrals - impartial third parties who have no stake in the outcome of the dispute.
The mediator provides a safe and structured environment for the parties to talk about their needs, explain their perspectives, and find solutions to troubling issues. The mediator is a trained expert on the process of resolving conflict, not the content of your dispute. In other words, you maintain control over the outcome and make all decisions about what you would like to see in the future.
Almost any kind of disagreement can be mediated. The ILCRG will mediate any dispute to which a member organization is a party. It may be a disagreement between individuals or between groups of people. Examples of cases that can be mediated include:
- Claims of discrimination or harassment
- Employee-employee relationships
- Employee-supervisor relationships
- Work team conflicts
- Unfair labor practices (ULPs)
- Contract grievances
If you have questions about whether a situation is appropriate for mediation, please call the ILCRG at 206-296-8751.
No. Mediators are not judges or arbitrators and they will not make a decision regarding your case. The mediator's role is to assist you and the other participant(s) to hear each other's perspectives, and help you find resolutions to your dispute that work for everyone.
First ask whether the other person or people involved in the dispute want to participate in mediation.
If your agency has a designated ADR contact, tell that person you want to mediate and give them information about the other mediation participants. If you don't know your agency contact, then contact us to bring your problem to the ADR Office directly. We will need information about the all participants (name, phone number, email address, etc.).
You and the other participant(s) select a date for the mediation that is acceptable to all - generally about two to three weeks in the future - and communicate that date to ADR staff. We will then arrange for a meeting room and schedule mediators and observers, as appropriate.
Once the date, time, location and mediators have been confirmed, the parties will be contacted so that we can help you prepare for your mediation and answer any questions you might have.
Mediations typically begin at 9 a.m. with in-person mediations usually held in the ADR Conference Room in King County's Central Building, though other times/locations can be arranged, if necessary, and online mediations using videoconferencing software. On average, most mediations last four to six hours. However, since there is no way to know how long a session will actually last, the parties are asked to set aside an entire day.
There is no charge for an ILCRG mediation. Since the mediators are employees of the member agencies, each agency "contributes" a share of the cost of the program by "contributing" a staff member to mediate the cases of other agencies.
Most of the mediators in our cadre are employees of the public agencies and labor unions that are members of the consortium who have been trained and certified as mediators. We also have many professional mediators who volunteer their services to the consortium.
Mediators come from a wide variety of backgrounds; some are attorneys and some not. Regardless of their background, all of the mediators have completed a rigorous training and certification program. In order to preserve confidentiality and impartiality, mediators do not participate in the resolution of disputes originating in their own agency.
Generally, ILCRG staff assigns mediators to cases. Since all of the mediators in the ILCRG cadre are volunteers, most of whom have jobs in various government agencies, the choice is made based on which mediators are available at the time the participants can attend mediation, as well as matching the needs of the participants to the experience and background of the mediators.
No. Mediation does not require that you waive any other right you may have to grieve, arbitrate, or litigate a dispute.
On average, a mediation lasts four to six hours. However, since we don't know at the outset how long a case will take, we ask that parties set aside an entire day for the mediation.
No. Mediation is a voluntary process so you cannot force another party to attend. Your agency contact may be able to assist you in talking to the other parties in the conflict to explain the benefits of attempting to mediate the dispute.
Yes. A party to a mediation can bring an attorney, union representative, or other advocate to a mediation.
In addition to providing mediation services, the ILCRG trains and certifies mediators. As a part of the training process, mediators-in-training are required to observe cases. The observers are not participants in the mediation process. They are there to observe and evaluate the actions and performance of the mediators, not the content of the mediation. Observers are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as the mediators.
The mediation process utilized by the ILCRG does not include pre-mediation sessions. The first time the mediators will learn details about your dispute is at the mediation session. Not knowing anything about the parties or the issues in dispute before the mediation helps ensure the neutrality of the mediators.
Since this is not a "fact-finding" process and the mediators will not be making decisions, it is not necessary to bring "evidence" to the mediation. The process is different from a court of law, and there is no submission of evidence to the mediators. It can sometimes be helpful to bring along things that will help the other party understand your perspective or to clarify what it is you are trying to describe. An example of this might be a surveyor's map in a property line dispute. This clarifying information can sometimes help illuminate the situation for everyone involved in the conflict.