Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about how Mediation is beneficial? Review our F.A.Q's shown below.

What is mediation? 

Mediation is a voluntary and private process to address conflicts. In mediation, parties have a private conversation in an informal setting with the assistance of a trained, neutral facilitator—the mediator. Each employee has an opportunity to discuss what is important to them, and to hear the other side’s point of view. The mediator assists the parties in clarifying issues, exploring interests, and generating solutions that are acceptable to all participants.

Mediation is beneficial because it allows participants to find solutions that will work for them.

Mediation is confidential. With few exceptions, the mediator will not disclose what is discussed in mediation. Mediation participants also agree that what is said in mediation will not be used in administrative or legal proceedings. Written agreements reached in mediation are not confidential. Depending on the agreement reached, a written agreement may be provided to the department that referred the parties to mediation.

Why is UMB offering mediation?  

Mediation is not new to UMB. It has been used successfully at the university on an ad hoc basis. The university decided to formalize a mediation service for employees to help employees problem-solve collaboratively and communicate productively. The institution and the employees benefit when employees “function at their highest potential to achieve their personal and professional goals” (UMB strategic plan). By formalizing the workplace mediation services UMB is joining employers in every level of government, schools, and non-profit and for-profit settings that have recognized the importance of employees resolving their work-related conflicts.

What can we talk about in mediation?  

Many work-related conflicts can be resolved in the safe, collaborative environment of mediation. Issues such as communication breakdowns between co-workers, scheduling, relationships with co-workers, and disagreements about shared resources are just a few of the issues that can be addressed in mediation.

What is the UMB Workplace Mediation Service? 

The Workplace Mediation Service is housed in the Center for Dispute Resolution at the University of Maryland Baltimore (C-DRUM) and provides mediation services to all UMB employees. Any employee may request mediation to assist in the resolution of a work-related conflict. The opportunity to participate in mediation is supported by UMB administration.

Who are the mediators and what do they do?  

The mediators are staff members of C-DRUM other UMB employees who volunteer with WMS. Many of the mediators are  experienced practitioners in a variety of dispute resolution processes. Mediators focus on helping the conversation progress in a way that meets the needs of the employees and fulfills the purpose of mediation. Their responsibilities include remaining neutral to the employees and the workplace issues, reflecting what has been said and asking open-ended questions to identify areas of agreement or disagreement.

What is the setting for the mediation sessions and how long will it take? 

The mediations take place in a remote environment (phone or video) or in-person at Maryland Carey Law, or in an alternative, mutually agreeable, location on the UMB campus. Mediation sessions are scheduled for two to three hours. It may take one or more sessions to understand and address issues and discuss solutions. WMS likes to start out with two sessions scheduled and then schedule additional sessions as needed. Sessions may be cancelled as needed. 

Why does UMB have so many conflict management options? 

UMB, like other institutions, has several conflict management options for employees and administration. The Workplace Mediation Service complements the work of Human Resource Services, the Ombuds Office, and the Office of Accountability and Compliance. Different circumstances may benefit from different processes. Some workplace situations call for procedures and outcomes that are guided by university policy, others follow specific legal or union requirements, and others can be resolved effectively by the involved individuals. Mediation offers a private, self-determined approach.

What is shared with other UMB Offices? 

The vast majority of communication and information associated with mediation is confidential. Because the Workplace Mediation Service operates within the UMB campus and because employees have a variety of resources available to them, there are times when employees may be in communication or involved with the services provided by another UMB office and the Workplace Mediation Service. If the people associated with the mediation are involved, or at any point become involved, with Human Resources, Office of Accountability and Compliance, or University Counsel WMS may need to connect with the appropriate office to help determine whether mediation is appropriate and may proceed. WMS limits the information shared to the names of those involved in mediation, contact information, role at the university, and the types of issues, although we do not share the specifics for each issue. For example, if workload and communication are the issues we would share that information. We do not share the details of any conversations, the reason for mediation, or what has happened. In some instances, WMS may require a referral from the office before mediation may proceed. 

How is mediation different from filing a grievance or using another conflict management option? 

Mediation is separate from other conflict management options and is distinguishable by the timeline, sources of information, decision-making, and participation. We hope that these distinctions help you understand the benefits of having conflict management options:

  • Timeline
    • Mediation has no deadlines. You may bring an issue to mediation that is new or has been present for a long time. You have a limited amount of time to file a complaint if you have a grievance.
  • Sources of information
    • The mediators hear only the information that the participants provide in the mediation. Other conflict management options may involve a formal investigation that includes other employees.
  • Who decides
    • In mediation, the participants identify the solution that meets their needs. Written agreements are reviewed by the referring office.
  • Who participates
    • In mediation, everyone chooses whether to participate. In formal processes it may be mandatory for the respondent to participate.

Trying mediation does not mean you cannot pursue another process and does not suspend the timelines for other processes.

What issues are not appropriate for mediation? 

Mediation is appropriate for a variety of issues except four: discrimination, sexual misconduct, family leave, and employee medical issues. Discrimination and sexual misconduct should be reported to the Office of Accountability and Compliance. Family leave and employee medical issues should be reported to Human Resources. Rights are available to employees who have family leave or medical issues. It is the employee’s responsibility to give notice to the employer. Participating in the mediation process is not notice.

If Human Resources or the Office of Accountability and Compliance are or at any point become involved we have to talk with them to help us determine whether mediation is appropriate and may proceed. WMS may require a referral from that office before proceeding with the mediation process. 

May employees have a mediation with their supervisor? 

Yes, employees may request mediation with their supervisor. WMS will contact the employee and supervisor to determine their willingness to participate in mediation. The employee and supervisor may choose whether to participate in mediation.

What are the limitations of mediation? 

When considering the right conflict management option for your workplace situation it is important to figure out which tool is the most appropriate for the situation, your goals, and the amount of time that you want to spend. For many situations, mediation is the most appropriate tool.

When the work-related issues are related to discrimination or sexual misconduct the employee should first contact the UMB Office of Accountability and Compliance. When the work-related issues are related to family leave, employee medical issues, or could become the subject of an employee grievance, the employee should first speak with UMB Human Resource Services.

The focus of mediation is to talk about the situation and explore mutually agreeable solutions. If you want to be able to use the information that you learn in mediation against someone then mediation is not the right tool. Retaliation is not allowed and the use of information from mediation in an administrative or legal hearing is prohibited.

If you are looking for the mediators to tell you or others involved what to do and render a decision of right and wrong then mediation is not the appropriate tool. Mediators help with the conversation and they do not give advice. The mediator helps make sure that all participants have an opportunity to share and are heard.

If you are looking for a quick fix then mediation may not be the appropriate tool. Mediation at UMB is intended to help participants to improve working relationships and have a more satisfying work experience. Based on experience, we know that resolving conflicts takes time, which is why mediation sessions are scheduled for two to three hours.

WMS can help determine whether mediation is appropriate. Contact us to inquire about or request mediation.

How do I request mediation? 

Connect with WMS about your situation either directly or by referral:

Contact WMS to discuss your situation or request mediation:


Contact Form

Contact a UMB referring office and mention you are interested in mediation:

  • UMB Office of the Ombuds (410-706-8534)
  • UMB Human Resource Services (410-706-2606)
  • UMB Office of Accountability and Compliance (Title IX) (410-706-2281)

After receiving the referral, WMS staff will contact the referred employee.

What should I do next? 

If you want to request mediation contact WMS or a UMB referring office and mention that you are interested in mediation. If you are curious about mediation or want to discuss whether your situation is appropriate for mediation contact WMS. Our goal is to respond within two business days.

The Workplace Mediation Service is available at 410-706-4270,, or Contact Form.

We look forward to hearing from you.