EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
The use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs to resolve contentious issues involving employees is gaining favor with both private and public sector organizations (Kelly & Berke, 1996, p. 15). Growth in the use of ADRs, however, has been accompanied by some outcomes that threaten to compromise the effectiveness of the approach to dispute settlement. Specifically, some judicial actions have held that mandatory arbitration specified in pre-dispute resolution agreements are not enforceable (Kelly & Berke, 1996, p. 15).
This research examines the ADR approach to the resolution of issues associated with claims of employment discrimination. Employment discrimination, as the term is used in this research, is defined broadly. Therefore, issues involving claims of sexual harassment are included along with claims of discrimination related to hiring, firing, promotion, assignments, and so forth.
The use of ADRs in relation to employment discrimination issues also is reviewed within the context of organizational human resource policy. The focus of the policy review segment of this research is the Quaker Oats Company.
Alternative dispute resolution is the term used to describe a variety of ways in which a dispute can be resolved outside of an organization's formal justice system or without resorting to society's judicial system (Evans, 1995, p. 56). ADRs may be either internal in character or external to the organization.
Four internal ADR processes have gained acceptance by many organizations (Evans, 1995, p. 56). These four ADR processes are as follows:
1. Open door. Open-door policies allow employees to bring their complaints directly to higher-level management. Typically, such complaints are aired on an informal basis.
2. Peer review. A peer-review panel consists of a mix of rank-and-file employees and managers who are trained in reviewing gri...