Core Principles for Non-Binding Workplace ADR Programs

Confidentiality: All ADR processes should assure confidentiality consistent with the provisions in the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act.  Neutrals should not discuss confidential communications, comment on the merits of the case outside the ADR process, or make recommendations about the case.  Agency staff or management who are not parties to the process should not ask neutrals to reveal confidential communications.  Agency policies should provide for the protection of privacy of complainants, respondents, witnesses, and complaint handlers.

Neutrality: Neutrals should fully disclose any conflicts of interest, should not have any stake in the outcome of the dispute, and should not be involved in the administrative processing or litigation of the dispute.  For example, they should not also serve as counselors or investigators in that particular matter.  Participants in an ADR process should have the right to reject a specific neutral and have another selected who is acceptable to all parties.

Preservation of rights:  Participants in an ADR process should retain their right to have their claim adjudicated if a mutually acceptable resolution is not achieved.

Self-determination: ADR processes should provide participants an opportunity to make informed, uncoerced, and voluntary decisions.

 Voluntariness: Employees’ participation in the process should be voluntary.  In order for participants to make an informed choice, they should be given appropriate information and guidance to decide whether to use ADR processes and how to use them.

Representation: All parties to a dispute in an ADR process should have a right to be accompanied by a representative of their choice, in accordance with relevant collective bargaining agreements, statutes, and regulations.

Timing: Use of ADR processes should be encouraged at the earliest possible time and at the lowest possible level in the organization.

Coordination:  Coordination of ADR processes is essential among all agency offices with responsibility for resolution of disputes, such as human resources departments, equal employment opportunity offices, agency dispute resolution specialists, unions, ombuds, labor and employee relations groups, inspectors general, administrative grievance organizations, legal counsel, and employee assistance programs.

Quality:  Agencies should establish standards for training neutrals and maintaining professional capabilities.  Agencies should conduct regular evaluations of the efficiency and effectiveness of their ADR programs.

Ethics:  Neutrals should follow the professional guidelines applicable to the type of ADR they are practicing.

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