The National Labor Relations Board created a pilot program to encourage use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, which is intended to save both sides of a labor law complaint time and money.
Announced July 10, participation in the program is entirely voluntary. The pilot program is designed to allow the NLRB to proactively engage parties that have cases pending before the board to determine if their case is appropriate for the ADR program.
The ADR program began in 2005 as an alternative way for parties to resolve cases brought before the board. Since its inception, mediators have assisted parties in reaching settlements in approximately 60% of the cases that have made their way into the ADR program.
Use of the program is free, and a party can withdraw from it at any time. The NLRB hopes the new efforts will increase participation and facilitate mutually acceptable settlements.
The program is available to any party with an unfair labor practice or compliance case pending. Once the parties enter the program, the ADR program director arranges for a neutral person to assist them.
Processing the case by the board will be stayed for 30 days from the first meeting with the mediator or until a settlement is reached, whichever comes first. All filing deadlines also will be stayed.
Parties can submit confidential settlement memos to the mediator. Because participation is entirely voluntary, either party can choose to withdraw from it at any time. The parties are not responsible for any costs or expenses associated with the program.
In addition, conversations between the mediator and parties are kept confidential and the mediator is not permitted to impose any kind of settlement.
The ADR program results in only a minimal delay in the case proceedings. Although entry into the program puts all case deadlines on hold, a case can only remain in the program for 28 days, unless the parties and the ADR program director agree otherwise.