This last posting brings our ADA Mediation Section web page to a close after over five busy years. In the early days of ADA mediation, many mediators resisted the notion that specialized expertise was necessary or desired. Through dialogue, training, and experience, we’ve established credibility for some clear best practices for ADA mediators. We’ve made such strides in our field, notably the ADA Mediation Guidelines and the adoption of recommended changes in the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators so as to ensure disability access to mediation. The publication of “Workplace Disability Conflict Management Best Practices,” below, brings us full circle in a sense. Our focus has shifted from ADA mediation as a specialized field of practice to the integration of ADA conflict management practices into standard operating procedure at many organizations.
Dispute resolution skills are now a required competency for a wide range of jobs, many outside of the human resources department. If managers and employees are to welcome people with disabilities into the workplace and to address disability accommodation effectively, they will need knowledge of disability, along with conflict management competency. We are on the cusp of a culture change, where conflicts are managed internally and at a lower level . . . lessening the need for outside mediators.
What can we, as ADA mediators, offer to guide those in the workplace who have conflict management responsibilities? What practices and procedures should be in place? What skills should managers have? When is the intervention of a neutral advisable?
This collection — “Best Practices for Workplace Disability Conflict Management” – is compiled from best practices in ADA workplace conflict management submitted to this page in response to an open call. We have not included extensive accommodation “how-to’s.” Rather, this list is oriented around the aspects of disability that might give rise to misunderstandings or conflicts — in short, the types of issues that might prompt a mediation or might come up during one. These recommendations can be used to guide internal staff, such as human resources, as well as external mediators and consultants. The items on this list apply to managers, interns and volunteers with disabilities, as well as to employees. Practices vary depending on the organizational culture, geographic location, and type of industry. (With apologies to those outside of the United States, these are U.S.-specific references; feel free to adapt!) Reproduction of this list is encouraged.*
Workplace Disability Conflict Management Best Practices
1) Disability-specific advisory committees, services and other actions
2) An ADA and Disability Resource publication
3) Reasonable accommodation (RA) request procedure
4. Training for managers, supervisors, and employees
5. Clear competency expectations for managers and supervisors.
6. Facilitated options
7. Integration of disability access with standard operating procedures
8. Measurable goals
9. Ongoing evaluation of the organization’s success
10. A welcoming and supportive workplace environment.
A workplace that is hospitable to everyone — where diverse opinions are valued, where employee input is encouraged, and where employees are encouraged to be accountable and work independently — is the kind of workplace that can integrate these ideas with the greatest ease. Welcoming employees with disabilities doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but is part of a larger cultural orientation of the organization. Be a force in fostering a positive work environment for everyone.
* Although mediate.com section pages will not be adding new postings, the ADA Mediation Page will continue to function as an archive and resource. This web page is a volunteer effort and a public service of mediate.com. When reproducing “Workplace Disability Conflict Management Best Practices list,” please cite “The Online ADA Mediation Page at www.mediate.com/adamediation ” in order to encourage its use as a resource. If the list is altered by your organization – also encouraged so that the list can be most relevant and useful to you – please include the words “Adapted from . . .”
Contributors to “Workplace Disability Conflict Management Best Practices”
Michael Eisner Michael Eisner Mediation Services
Patricia “Pattie” Porter, LCSW Conflict Connections, Inc.
Shari Swoish Workforce Solutions Plus
Irene C. Warshauer, Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator Fried & Epstein LLP
Nancy Neal Yeend, Dispute Management Specialist The John Paul Jones Group
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