REDRESS is the Postal Service's award-winning Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) mediation program that provides a fast, fair, neutral, and informal alternative to traditional EEO counseling. Mediation is a voluntary process where employees in a dispute can develop their own resolutions with the assistance of an impartial third party mediator. All decisions in REDRESS mediation are made by the parties, not the mediator. Mediators are private practitioners who are neither current nor former postal employees. If REDRESS is offered and the employee requests mediation, the appropriate management official will participate in the process in good faith. There is no requirement that either party settle the case, however, most people voluntarily decide to do so. Mediation affords the parties an opportunity to develop creative solutions to their dispute that might not be available in a formal hearing.
Some employees who file EEO complaints may also have filed a grievance on the same issue. If the issues are resolved in mediation, the employee may choose to withdraw or settle the grievance with the consent of the appropriate bargaining unit official.
The complaint process
When an employee has a discrimination complaint, he or she may access REDRESS by following these steps:
- Request EEO counseling by using the online Postal Service EEO efile application at: https://efile.usps.com. Alternatively, you may request EEO counseling by mail by providing your name, Social Security or employee identification number, address and telephone number to: NEEOISO — EEO Contact Center, PO Box 21979, Tampa FL 33622-1979
- You may be given the choice to participate in REDRESS mediation
- If you accept REDRESS mediation, the EEO ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Specialist will schedule the mediation within two to three weeks barring exceptional circumstances
- You may bring a representative of your choice to mediation or you may come alone
- The parties maintain the power to resolve the dispute the way that works best for them
- If there is no resolution at the informal stage, you will be given a notice of right to file a formal complaint.
Preparing for Mediation
The following are some tips for employees who have chosen to mediate their case:
- Mediation is informal and the mediator will not make any decisions for you
- Expect to engage in a meaningful discussion with the other party
- Try to imagine what the other party's concerns may be and possible options for addressing those concerns
- Come to mediation with possible options for resolution of the dispute - don't be afraid to be creative
- Prior to mediation, speak with friends and people whose advice you trust and seek their input about the dispute
- You may wish to ask a trusted person to represent you by coming to the mediation and providing support
- Gather and organize any documents you believe may help you explain your points
- Review records that may be applicable to the resolution of the matter
- Decide if you would like to discuss any related grievances that you have filed.
There are three possible outcomes to REDRESS mediation:
- Settlement Agreement - Counselee agrees to give up his/her complaint in exchange for something. If the parties agree upon terms for a settlement, they reduce it to writing and sign the agreement. The mediator then delivers the signed agreement to the Postal Service for final processing and the case is closed. If Counselee believes the settlement agreement has been breached and terms have not been implemented, Counselee must notify the EEO Complaints Processing Office, in writing, within 30 calendar days of the alleged noncompliance. The statement should include a request that the terms of the settlement agreement be specifically implemented or, alternatively, that the complaint be reinstated for further processing from the point processing ceased.
- Withdrawal - Counselee understands the issues and withdraws his/her complaint in its entirety. Counselee understands this ends the complaint process and he/she has no avenue for further appeal."
- No Agreement - No resolution was reached, the case is returned to the EEO ADR Specialist to continue to the next step of the traditional complaint process.
Agreement writing tips
- Avoid vague settlement terms like "the employee will be re-instated" say "the employee will be reinstated as a postmaster in ABC post office on June 1, 2005 with a salary of XXXXXXX, etc. . . . "
- Clearly define who will be responsible for what actions and when they will be completed.
- Do not enter into agreements that you cannot personally enforce. If enforcement requires another person's performance, talk to that person and obtain approval and consent before signing an agreement.
- Parties have the responsibility to make sure that settlement agreements are implemented according to the terms agreed upon.
- Confidentiality provisions cannot be included in agreements without prior approval from the law department.