Employment Discrimination:

Most Private-Sector Employers Use Alternative Dispute Resolution

HEHS-95-150: Published: Jul 5, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 5, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) extent to which private-sector employers use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches in resolving discrimination complaints of employees not covered by collective bargaining agreements; and (2) fairness of private-sector employers' arbitration policies.

GAO found that: (1) in fiscal year 1994, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received over 90,000 discrimination complaints from employees; (2) ADR approaches include negotiation, fact finding, peer review, internal mediation, external mediation, and arbitration; (3) almost all employers with more than 100 employees use one or more ADR approaches to resolve discrimination complaints; (4) some employers' arbitration policies do not meet the fairness standards proposed by the Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations; (5) almost 40 percent of private-sector employers use a trained mediator from within the company to help resolve disputes, and only 10 percent of these employers use arbitration; (6) firms that have some workers covered by collective bargaining agreements are more likely to use arbitration; and (7) arbitration is usually the final step in a grievance policy, which includes other ADR approaches.

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