The DC Human Rights Amendment Act established mandatory mediation, effective October 1, 1997. Mediation is an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process that is used by the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) as an alternative to investigation. Complaints that are not resolved in mediation are forwarded to an investigator as mandated by the DC Human Rights Act (Act) to be completed in no more than 120 days.
Mediations are conducted by ADR professionals, veteran mediators, attorneys, and a broad range of other professionals from the public and private sector. These services are provided to OHR on a pro bono basis. Mediation is an alternative to investigation and can quickly eliminate those cases without merit under the Act. Parties to a complaint will not be required to submit evidence or testimony from witnesses. Mediators do not weigh any evidence, interview witnesses or determine whether any wrongdoing has occurred.
Mediation is not the same as an investigation, therefore, parties are not required to submit evidence during this process. If the mediation is not successful, Respondents are required to submit a detailed position statement to an investigator.
The Mediator's role is to conduct the process in a manner where the merits of the complaint are assessed and a resolution is sought. The Mediator is in complete charge of the mediation. Joint and private confidential sessions may be held with both parties. The Mediator does not determine how the matter will be resolved but may suggest options.
Mediation is not a legal process. Legal representation is permitted only in an advisory capacity and attorneys may not speak for the charging party. Mediation is confidential and may not be recorded. No aspect of mediation can be used in any future litigation of the complaint.
Agreements or settlements reached during mediation do not constitute an admission by the Respondent of a violation of the Act or any other state or federal law.
Complaints that are resolved in mediation are administratively dismissed by OHR and if cross-filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, are dismissed from that agency as well.
Mediations are usually held Monday - Friday during the day or in the evenings. The mediation session lasts 1 - 3 hours and a follow-up session can be scheduled if warranted.