School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development
This article will explore the question of creeping legalism in mediation of statutory disputes arising out of employment. First, it will briefly review the issue of creeping legalism in arbitration. Second, it will introduce dispute systems design (DSD). Third, it will review the analogous debate on legalism in mediation in three design contexts: evaluative mediation of employment disputes in the court-connected setting, grievance mediation embedded in the collective bargaining agreement, and transformative mediation of employment disputes in the United States Postal Service's (USPS's) REDRESS program. Most employees do not face a choice among mediation models; instead, they choose among adjudicative processes or mediation. Thus, the article will conclude by reporting the results of an interview study comparing USPS employees' experiences in the EEO complaint process, grievance arbitration, and employment mediation. These results show that an individual employee complainant may benefit from a non-adversarial, non-legalistic, and voluntary mediation model that seeks to foster communication and mutual understanding.
Journal of Dispute Resolution