With the increase in new complaints filed and
our limited resources and budget, the Commission needed to look at new and
innovative ways of improving our case processing system. One suggestion
that came from the 1992 Iowa Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Seminar
was to ask attorneys and other interested individuals to assist with mediation
or arbitration of Commission cases. This would serve as an alternative to
waiting for a full investigation.
Committees were set up to form a foundation
for the mediation and arbitration pr-ograms. The committees worked on written
guidelines, principles, procedures, statutory and rule changes, computerized
forms and letters, an administrative structure , and a costs/benefits analysis.
Volunteers were recruited, and the first training conference was held on
June 18, 1993.
A second training conference was held on June
10, 1994. Attorneys who participated in the program shared their methods,
successes and problems during a panel discussion. Mike Thompson, executive
director of Iowa Mediation Services, Inc., spent the rest of the day training
on mediation as a process and on specific techniques. The Iowa Supreme Court
granted CLE credits for both training sessions, and video tapes of the sessions
are available to interested individuals.
Since July 1, 1993, there have been over 200
cases assigned to the volunteer attorneys for mediation. The first settlement
was received on August 17, 1993, and since then, 26 cases have been settled.
The settlements have ranged from relatively small amounts to $35,000. There
have been 71 cases that were not able to be resolved, three rights-to-sue
have been issued, and there have been two withdrawals.
Each attorney handles one to ten cases per year.
Assignments are rotated, and the geographical location of the parties and
the attorneys are taken into consideration. Some attorneys have volunteered
to travel for expenses only.