What If Mediation Hearing Doesn’t Stop Bullying

Question: to Ask the Workplace Doctors 

There is an upcoming mediation hearing to resolve bullying issue in my workplace. I am concerned that this will be ineffective. If it doesn’t help, then what to do? Courts settle issues with a financial settlement, but that will not stop the behavior. Any recommendations?

Signed, Worried


Dear Worried:

In most cases a mediation hearing is held to try to bring about reconciliation, not to find fault or to make a judgment about right or wrong. I’m not clear on if this mediation hearing is at the level of organizational complaint or is the first step in a lawsuit you have filed.We aren’t experts in the area of mediation or related issues, but I have participated in many such hearings and can provide you with some insights that might be helpful.My first advice is that if you can get the help of an attorney who specializes in workplace bullying issues, you would find that to be very useful to you. You may be working with one right now, but I didn’t get that impression. He or she could review documents you receive and could advise you about approaches to take. You may find that just one meeting with an attorney would be very worthwhile.You mention your concern that the mediation hearing won’t be effective and that the actions will continue. That may be the case. A mediation hearing is designed to encourage compromise. “If you stop doing this, she will stop doing that.” “I agree that I can change in this way if the other person will change in this way.”The mediator is just a person hired to bring both people to a sense of agreement. He or she has no control over disciplinary proceedings and is supposed to not have an opinion about the degree that one person is right or wrong. So, pleading a case doesn’t help, only working toward an agreement.If the other person doesn’t feel she has behaved wrongly, she won’t agree to change. If you don’t feel you have behaved in ways that contributed to the situation, you won’t agree to change.

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