What is a mediation?
Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral third party helps complainants and respondents discuss their dispute and reach a mutually acceptable resolution. The mediator does not represent either party and does not impose a decision on the parties. Instead, the mediator helps the parties come to an agreement that ends their dispute.
Who conducts mediations at CRD?
The CRD employs a staff of experienced neutrals whose exclusive role at the CRD is to mediate cases in the Dispute Resolution Division. CRD’s mediators do not participate in investigations or prosecutions. They have no stake in the outcome of a case. They have no access to case files and do not disclose any information they learn during mediation to the Enforcement or Legal Divisions. Most CRD mediators are attorneys with litigation experience; some are former administrative law judges or arbitrators. All have undergone extensive mediation training and some are trainers themselves.
Are there different types of mediations at CRD?
Yes, there are both voluntary and mandatory mediations. Voluntary mediations occur when both parties agree to mediate before CRD finishes its investigation. Voluntary mediation cannot take place unless both sides agree; CRD cannot require a party to participate in voluntary mediation if the party does not wish to mediate.
Mandatory mediations occur after CRD finds reasonable cause to believe that a civil rights law has been violated. Prior to filing a civil action in court, CRD is required in most cases to offer mediation as an attempt to bring parties together to resolve their complaint with a Dispute Resolution Division mediator.
Why was my case sent to the Dispute Resolution Division for voluntary mediation?
A case is referred to the Dispute Resolution Division because one or all parties request mediation. Other times a case is referred because the Department identified the case as appropriate for mediation and offers the parties the opportunity to engage in free, confidential mediation before or during an investigation process. Even though your case has been referred, voluntary mediation will not take place unless you and the other side agree to mediate.
Why should I agree to mediate?
Mediation provides parties a cost-effective opportunity to quickly resolve a complaint on their own terms, without going through the investigative process. Advantages of mediation include:
- It is free.
- Mediation is a confidential process. This confidentiality is protected by the mediation privilege in Evidence Code sections 1115 -1129.
- Mediation can improve communication. Both parties can openly discuss their views and share information about the dispute in a confidential, neutral setting.
Do CRD mediators represent anyone during mediations?
CRD’s neutral mediators do not represent any parties during mediations.
Should I hire an attorney?
Parties may retain legal representation for mediation, but are not required to do so.
How many times can a case be sent to mediation for possible resolution?
If mediation initially is declined or is unsuccessful, the matter may be referred for voluntary mediation again if both parties request and agree to mediation and DRD deems the matter appropriate. If CRD finds reasonable cause to believe that a civil rights law has been violated, CRD is required in most cases to offer mediation before the Legal Division files a lawsuit.
What if I don’t like the settlement that is proposed?
CRD mediators do not have the authority to require parties to agree to a settlement they do not like or want. If you do not like a settlement proposal, you may reject it and make a counter offer, if you like.
If a respondent agrees to a settlement, does that mean the respondent is guilty?
Not necessarily. Most CRD settlements are no-fault settlements. CRD settlement agreements generally state that they do not constitute an admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of the respondent.
What information do I need to bring to mediation?
Mediation participants should know the facts related to their complaint. You will have an opportunity to provide the mediator whatever information you feel is relevant to resolving the complaint. If you have relevant documents, you can bring them to mediation. You do not have to share documents with the opposing party at mediation.
Will the mediator have access to all the documents and information I already provided the investigator?
No. Because of the information firewall the CRD maintains between the Enforcement and Dispute Resolution Divisions, CRD mediators have no access to CRD investigative files. All information CRD mediators learn about a case comes from the mediation participants themselves.
Does the respondent have to prepare a response while a case is in mediation?
No. While a pre-investigation complaint is with the Dispute Resolution Division, all work on the matter by the Enforcement Division ceases and the requirement to submit a response to the complaint is temporarily suspended.
If my case does not settle in mediation, how much time will the respondent have to respond to CRD?
If mediation is declined or is unsuccessful, a response must be provided to CRD no later than twenty-one days after the date the Enforcement Division notifies the respondent in writing that a response is due.