Remarks From The ADA Editors

by Judith Cohen, Patricia Porter
March 2003
A multitude of conflict situations from interpersonal disputes to work performance issues, EEO complaints and grievances abound in the workplace. Misperceptions, lack of knowledge, miscommunication, and attitudes surrounding employees with disabilities are also potential sources of workplace conflict and may compound the other typical conflict areas. This special collection of articles brings to the readers some of the most current thinking in the field of ADA mediation. The ADA Mediation Guidelines, published in 2000, offer practitioners a set of ethical principles and practical suggestions. Since the issuance of the ADA Mediation Guidelines, large numbers of mediation providers have put the Guidelines into practice. Ongoing dialogue and experimental implementation has fostered further development of the Guidelines, which continue to be a “work in progress.” Judy Cohen, ADA Mediation Guidelines Coordinator, addresses this in her article on emerging developments.

The Guidelines do not offer the practical “how-to” of providing accessible, effective, mediation services to people with disabilities. In this collection, Kathleen Blank announces an exciting new partnership between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the National Council on Disability (NCD). This collaboration will produce technical assistance documents and a training program to give mediation providers a practical framework for mediating a fair, quality process for disability-related cases. Kathleen, the Project Manager, seeks insights and experiences of mediators who have handled disability-related cases.

Readers can learn more “how-to” steps in the article by Debra Vitali Dupree, Mediation Training Institute International. Debra provides a structured process for mediating reasonable accommodation cases and discusses the importance of convening to prepare for a successful disability-related mediation session. Finally, Marsha Wagner, ombuds at Columbia University, provides a new twist on ADA mediation by describing in her article the variety of dispute resolution approaches and techniques used by ombuds in disability-related workplace cases.

This collection of articles provides an overview of important aspects of ADA mediation in the workplace today. We hope that it will contribute toward a continued dialogue in the field.

Biography



Judy Cohen, a mediator and trainer, specializes in workplace conflict management, focussing on conflict prevention, as well as dispute resolution.  Her mediation practice includes extensive experience with discrimination cases, discipline and discharge, and interpersonal relations. She is a widely published, nationally known expert in Americans with Disabilities Act, with disability-related mediation experience in workplace and public accommodations.   She also works with small business owners, helping them develop more effective partner relationships ships.

Judith Cohen was formerly an Organizational Development Program Manager at the Flight Standards Division of the Federal Aviation Administration Eastern Region. In this role, she implemented conflict management processes, including conflict coaching, mediation, team-building, group facilitation, training, and consultation, for a work force of 500 employees. She also managed the Model Work Environment and the Employee Attitude Survey projects, providing assistance with facility action plans and organizational change activities.

In her prior position as an ADR Program Manager at the FAA, she designed and implemented the EEO internal mediation program, training and supervising mediators and overseeing the program’s administration and evaluation.  In her mediation practice, Judith is attuned to the underlying issues common in disability-related and other workplace cases. She works with the parties to help them consider the range of potential issues and options, so that they can develop solutions with which they feel comfortable. Judith's training practice in conflict management includes extensive work for government agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, and labor unions. She designs and provides practical, participatory training programs in collaboration with the client.

Patricia Porter

Pattie Porter, LCSW, is the Founder and President of Conflict Connections, Inc. in San Antonio, TX. She provides workplace and business conflict resolution services including mediation, conflict management coaching, team facilitation and training throughout the U.S. She is the host of her own Blog Talk Radio show called The Texas Conflict Coach.

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