16 Graduate as “Workplace Mediators:” Workplace Mediation Certificate Course (Cohort 1903) FAPAC- November 4-7, 2019.

                                                                   Graduate class Group: name of Graduates.

Back row L to R: Frederick Cheng, Phuong Calloway, Arunsiri Brown, Noelle Pickney, Benedict Eng, Tasha Spraque, Rudy Kamadinata, Monica Meyers, Lai-Yea Allyson Wong, Fahmida Chhipa.  Front row kneeling, L to R: Danielle Cloos, Heather Pearson, Ting Mei Chau. Others: Perter Nguyen, Caroline Ba.

The Federal Asian Pacific Council (FAPAC), in collaboration with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Academy (ADRA), recently concluded their first workplace mediation training event. The collaboration was a perfect match, as both organizations have a similar interest in assuring that everyone has a fair and equal opportunity for success in the workplace. FAPAC is an organization that promotes equal opportunity and cultural diversity for Asian Pacific American (APA) within the Federal and District of Columbia governments. ADRA’s mission is to reduce conflict in the workplace with training that is designed to address problem areas that create tensions and reduce productivity.

The workplace mediation training event went off without a hitch.  Speakers came from three organizations and federal agencies.  The goal of the November 4-7 collaboration was to train and mentor twenty federal employees as “Workplace Conflict Mediators” ready to implement the new skills they learned to resolve disputes at their agencies.  The training was led by Instructor Guno Ritfeld, J.D. Mr. Ritfeld is a retired Department Defense Human Resource Commissioned Officer and is the founder of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Academy.  Since 2011, the Academy has provided continuing education and training online and onsite to various industry professionals, primarily concerning legal and dispute resolution.  Currently, he is focused on providing federal agencies with of training and services to resolve workplace and employment disputes.

To hone in on students’ knowledge, Mrs. Fahmida Chhipa, an Equal Opportunity Specialist with the Department of Agriculture, lectured on The Federal EEO Complaints and Grievance Process. She pointed out often seen mistakes managers make that could be resolved through communication, mediation, and understanding relevant EEOC policies and agency rules.  Additionally, Mrs. Chhipa’s training gave the aspiring workplace mediators a clear picture of complaints that may fall outside the EO complaint but still be in the purview of an agency’s grievance reporting processes.

The workshop had two special guest speakers. Students had the honor to learn from Judge Kathryn Brown who has decided numerous cases related to employment disputes. Judge Brown is an Administrative Judge (AJ) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Washington Field Office(WFO) and Coordinator of the WFO Initiative for the Settlement of EEO Complaints (WISE), a settlement program that addresses cases pending before AJs. She has served as an AJ for over a decade. As a judge, she presides over the administrative litigation of employment discrimination complaints filed by federal employees and applicants for federal employment and serves as settlement judge facilitating the resolution of cases pending before her colleagues. During Judge Brown’s tenure on the Commission, she has participated in workgroups responsible for developing a national handbook for EEOC Administrative Judges as well as revisions to the regulations found at 29 C.F.R. Part 1614, which govern the processing of federal sector EEO complaints. She has also served as the National Hearings Coordinator for the EEOC and as a mediator in the WFO ADR Unit. Judge Brown addressed the EEOC process and the grievance process and Management Directives (MD), such as MD110, the directive that provides federal agencies with Commission policies, procedures, and guidance relating to the processing of employment discrimination complaints governed by the Commission’s regulations in 29 C.F.R. Part 1614.

Maria N. Rivero, with the Office of Mediation at Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and a Licensed attorney in Spain, shared her knowledge with students, giving them a perspective on dispute resolution outside federal agencies. She touched on diversity and relationships in the workplace, while engaging in a dialogue about disputes that may arise due to various perspectives from people with different backgrounds.  She explained the commitment of the Inter-American Development Bank to address employees’ concerns through formal and informal mediation. The IDB has designed a model grievance process where disputants can voluntary select mediation as a venue to resolve disputes.

Graduates who completed 32 hours of intense interactive training and demonstrated their ability to apply ethical standards as advocated by the Uniform Mediation Ace and Model Code of Conduct for Mediators, were issued with certificates recognized by International Continuing Education and Training (IACET) organization, provided by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Academy. Students also engaged in a discussion about Title VII, prohibited employment practices, grievance process in the Federal program, as well as the Equal Opportunity Commission functions, laws, and policies.

Our gratitude to Veracity Engineering management and staff who provided a “state of the art” training facility at the L’Enfant Plaza, District of Columbia.

For further information on the program contact Guno Ritfeld at info@adraceu.com

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