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Frequently Asked Questions
Want to know more about how Mediation is beneficial? Review our F.A.Q's shown below.
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.
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 workplace conflicts.
Many workplace 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.
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 conflict they are experiencing at work.
The mediators are staff members of C-DRUM. Each of them is an experienced practitioner in a variety of dispute resolution processes. The mediations take place in space at Maryland Carey Law, or in an alternative, mutually agreeable, location on the UMB campus.
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 ask-ing open-ended questions to identify areas of agreement or disagreement.
Mediation sessions are scheduled for three hours. The opportunity to participate in mediation is supported by UMB administration. Issues are often resolved during the first session. Additional sessions may be scheduled as needed.
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 employees. Mediation offers a private, self-determined approach.
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 op-tions:
- 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.
Sexual misconduct and discrimination should be reported to the Office of Accountability and Compliance. Workplace issues other than sexual misconduct or discrimination are appropriate for mediation. If the workplace issues may involve medical issues the employee should contact UMB Human Resource Services before requesting a referral to the Work-place Mediation Service. If you are not sure if your situation is appropriate for mediation, call the WMS. The staff can talk with you to determine if mediation is the appropriate process.
Yes, employees may request mediation with their supervisor. The 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.
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 workplace issues involve allegations of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct mediation through the WMS is not appropriate and should be discussed with the UMB Office of Accountability and Compliance. When the workplace issues may involve 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 someone 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 experience at work. Based on experience, we know that resolving conflicts takes time, which is why mediation sessions are scheduled for three hours.
Employees may request mediation through one of the UMB referring offices, which provides referrals to WMS for mediation.
WMS accepts referrals from the following UMB offices:
- 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 speak with all involved employees, assess whether the concerns are appropriate for a mediation setting, and schedule the mediation if all employees agree to participate.