Program finds ways to solve EEO disputes



by Donovan Jackson
Air University Public Affairs


2/8/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- The 42nd Air Base Wing's Equal Opportunity Office is encouraging civilian and military employees to use its Alternative Dispute Resolution program to resolve workplace disputes, complaints and grievances.

The ADR program is voluntary for all parties and offers an alternative means for finding solutions to equal employment opportunity complaints. ADR stresses creative problem solving over adversarial positions, improving communication between the parties and enhancing the work environment.

"ADR is not only a great program because it helps resolve conflicts and complaints efficiently, it is also less costly and less time consuming than conventional methods of dispute resolutions," said Linda Long, equal opportunity director and Alternative Dispute Resolution manager. "Our most frequent disputes are performance appraisals."

Not every dispute is right for ADR, but most EEO complaints are.

"Although not all complaints are conducive to the program, once a complaint is filed we will first offer ADR as a means to solve it, however it can be turned down at will," Long said.

According to Air Force statistics, formal EEO complaints take an average of 13 months to process from start to finish, while complaints resolved through ADR average only 40 days.

Within the Air Force, the most popular forms of ADR are mediation and facilitation. These are common ADR techniques in EEO cases because they are most effective in resolving workplace-related disputes quickly, fairly and economically, Long said. Also, they provide the two sides with the chance to develop the terms of an agreement or decide that no agreement can be reached.

To seek ADR services and learn the advantages of facilitation and/or mediation in effort to resolve workplace conflict, oftentimes before a complaint is filed, contact Long at 953-5107 or at linda.long.2@us.af.mil. For more information about the ADR program and its services, visit http://www.adr.af.mil.