Don’t use mediation or other alternative dispute resolution practices for bullying resolution, says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). Here’s why:
“Workplace bullying is a form of violence, non-physical and sub-lethal, but interpersonal violence nevertheless. Violent relationships cannot be mediated. Mediation requires that both parties are rational and capable of gaining an empathic understanding of the needs and intellectual interests of the other party. In bullying, only one party is rational. The other’s interest is tainted by her or his need to dominate the other party. There is no equal footing at the start. One does not mediate domestic violence. There is no halfway in the gulf between parties when one is under assault by the other.”
Workplace bullying targets shared the outcomes of employer-required mediation and/or arbitration to address their workplace bullying situations back in 2011:
- In 52 percent of the cases, the bullies had no consequences.
- In 33 percent of the cases, the targets were either fired or quit.
- In only 7 percent of cases were the bullies punished or terminated.
- The remaining cases involved transfer of either the target or bully.
That’s right: bullies were able to act with no consequences 52 percent of the time, but targets had to suffer with job loss 33 percent of the time. In other words, employers most often protected the bullies even under the guises of mediation and arbitration.
“If chance alone were to predict an outcome between two parties, one could expect that each person would win 50 percent of the time,” explains WBI. “The actual outcome is far from chance. The aggressor (harasser, bully) won in mediation by any measure you choose. Bullies walk away without having to give up anything in compromise (52 percent). Negatives were not equivalent for targets (33 percent if one counts a transfer to safety as a positive, or 50 percent if transfers also mean loss of a coveted job that had to be abandoned to get to safety) versus for bullies (7 percent).”
“When targets are mandated to mediate, the targets’ loss of control over their work lives is reinforced by the employer. After the process, the outcomes strongly favor the bullies. Employers should not mandate mediation or arbitration. (Arbitration is often a clause in modern employment contracts. It is the employer saying to employees that you may not sue them in civil court no matter how they mistreat you.),” adds WBI.