Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (“Cracker Barrel”) recently joined the list of companies who are part of the EEOC’s National Universal Agreement to Mediate (NUAM) program to resolve employment discrimination claims. Rather than the EEOC engaging in a lengthy, formal investigation and litigation, the agreement would allow the EEOC and Cracker Barrel to informally resolve any workplace discrimination claims through Alternative Dispute Resolution. If you’re interested in learning how a Universal Agreement to Mediate (“UAM”) can benefit your company, our attorneys can help you figure out if entering into a UAM is the right decision for you. Our attorneys have helped many companies enter into this type of agreement.
There are over 200 national and regional private sector employers, including several Fortune 500 companies who have a similar arrangement with the EEOC. Some of the companies include: Ford Motor Company, Frito-Lay, Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, Intel Corporation, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Quest Diagnostics, Inc, and Tyson Foods, Inc.
This type of nationwide mediation agreement benefits everyone. Nicholas Inzeo, Director of the EEOC’s Office of Field Programs has stated that “NUAMs are a nonadversarial and efficient way for companies to handle discrimination charge using the EEOC as a partner and adviser. EEOC mediation encourages a positive environment, and the company saves time and money.”
According to the terms of the NUAM, if anybody files an eligible discrimination charge with the EEOC naming Cracker Barrel as an employer or respondent, the matter would be referred to the EEOC’s mediation unit. As part of the NUAM, Cracker Barrel will name a corporate representative to handle any inquiries related to potential employment discrimination charges to help the EEOC with quick and efficient scheduling of mediation.
If your company is considering entering into a UAM with the EEOC, there are benefits to consider. Some of these include the following:
- a UAM shows that you are willing to mediate;
- the time involved in contacting an employer to see if they will mediate is shortened;
- a UAM expedites the flow of information between the EEOC and the employer;
- having a UAM expedites mediation scheduling; and
- allows both the EEOC and the employers to opt out of mediation on a case by cases basis if one of the parties thinks that the claim is not appropriate.
Certain types of claims are not eligible for mediation. These include class and systemic charges, claims filed under the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, or claims filed solely under the Equal Pay Act. The EEOC also has the discretion to opt out of mediation in cases where it serves the public interest to investigate the claim.
The EEOC is pushing its mediation program in order to improve it own efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with workplace discrimination claims. Currently, the EEOC has 233 national and regional Universal Agreements to Mediate with private sector employers. The EEOC’s district offices have entered into 1,743 mediation agreements with local level employers. Through its NUAM, the EEOC has mediated over 136,000 charges of employment discrimination since the program begin in April 1999. About 70% of these charges have been successfully resolved.
If you are interested in learning more about the NUAM program, call our Mediation Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you evaluate whether this program can help your company deal better and more cost effectively with employment discrimination claims.
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