As an employer, there may be a situation in which one of your employees believes they are being harassed or discriminated against on the job. An example could be a female employee who believes that one of her male coworkers is being too forward in his advances and that it constitutes sexual harassment. Another example could be an employee who is from a minority ethnic group, who alleges that other workers treat them differently or make disparaging comments about their race, ethnicity, national origin or something of this nature. These examples all involve potentially unlawful treatment of members of protected classes. Discrimination and harassment are illegal on these grounds.
In this situation, you can easily see how damaging these allegations can be for your business. Maybe the employee is going to claim that there was a hostile work environment. The situation could even lead to a lawsuit. This can be bad for your public reputation, and it can be costly and time-consuming. For all of these reasons, you’ll want to do what you can to avoid litigation. One potential option could be to use mediation to resolve the issue at hand.
How is mediation different?
As experts have explained it, mediation is a tactic for managing conflict wherein an impartial third-party will meet with the team members and help them seek a resolution. This approach is quite different than actually starting a lawsuit and taking legal action. It gives both sides a chance to talk about what happened and tell their side of the story, so that action can be taken to rectify the situation. For instance, maybe one of the employees will be moved to a different department to reduce the conflict between the two.
The goal of mediation is often to reduce tension. Be sure you know exactly what legal options you have and what is required of you as an employer if mediation seems like an appealing option. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.