One of the main reasons that U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settlements are common is because there are a number of different opportunities for the discrimination charge to be resolved without litigation. Mediation, settlement and conciliation are the three main opportunities to settle before an EEOC case goes to trial.
Mediation has been expanded by the EEOC and is designed in a way that involves no investigation. The process of mediation is confidential, voluntary and often takes less than 90 days. Both parties in a mediation are allowed to have their cases heard, and a neutral third party oversees the proceedings. Settlement agreements formed through the process of mediation are enforceable, and if a settlement is not reached, an investigation can begin.
Settlement can occur at any time during an investigation. Both parties can work with an investigator to resolve the complaint and reach an agreement. Settlements are considered enforceable, and charges are dismissed if all parties reach a voluntary agreement.
Conciliation is a process by which there are negotiations and offers presented by both parties. Either party can counter with its own offer until a settlement is reached. This option occurs after an investigation has found that there is reasonable cause indicating that discrimination did happen. Conciliation is the final option to settle a claim before proceeding to litigation.