OKDHS:2-1-169. Procedure for mediation
(a) Request for mediation session. All requests for mediation sessions must be filed directly with the DHS grievance manager. Submit requests to Human Resources Management Division (HRMD), Employee Relations and Development Unit, P. O. Box 25352, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105, using Form P-S-97 (new Form 11PE097E), Request for Mediation Session. A request for mediation shall contain a brief statement of the nature of the dispute and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all parties to the dispute and those who will represent them, if any, in the mediation. The DHS grievance manager reviews the request to determine if the complaint is appropriate for mediation and contacts both parties.
(1) If all parties agree to mediation, the grievance manager will notify all parties of the date, time, and place of the scheduled mediation session.
(2) If a party to the mediation wishes to have a representative present, the DHS grievance manager must be notified prior to the date of the mediation session. The DHS grievance manager will contact the other party who must consent to the attendance of the representative. If no consent is given, there will be no mediation session.
(3) The representative may only advise his or her party and must speak only to the mediator of his or her party.
(b) Scheduling of a mediation session. Mediation sessions are normally conducted during regular work hours, excluding legal holidays, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mediation sessions are scheduled in such a manner so the mediation session may conclude by the end of the business day. The date of the mediation session may be continued on the request of the mediator, initiating party, responding party, or by decision of the DHS grievance manager.
(c) Conduct of mediation session. The mediation session is an informal process and is not recorded. For the purpose of the mediation procedures, a mediation session begins at the initial meeting between the parties and the mediator. The session ends at the completion of the mediation agreement or the decision of the mediator to terminate the mediation session. Either party may also withdraw from participation.
(d) Assignment of mediators. Upon receipt of a request for mediation, the DHS grievance manager will appoint a qualified mediator to serve. Mediators will be assigned to individual cases based on impartiality, objectivity, and geographic location. The mediator is not a representative of any party and shall not:
(1) force the parties to reach an agreement;
(2) make a decision; or
(3) attempt to change or influence a decision made by any party.
(e) Objectivity and impartiality. Any mediator who believes he or she is unable to maintain objectivity and impartiality shall immediately terminate or cancel the mediation session and notify the DHS grievance manager of the need to assign another mediator and reschedule the session.
(f) Confidentiality. Any information received by a mediator, a person assisting a mediator, or any party to the mediation session is confidential. The mediation session is not an open meeting, and no part of the session is public record. Tape recording or other mechanical means of recording a mediation session is not permitted. There shall be no stenographic record of the mediation process. Mediators and parties to the mediation are not subject to any administrative or judicial process requiring disclosure of any matters discussed during any part of the mediation session, except as specifically authorized by the Oklahoma Dispute Resolution Act.
(g) Mediation agreement. The written agreement will be the only record of what happened during the mediation sessions. The agreement must provide specific details as to who will do what and when. The agreement must also be even-handed and not conditional. The mediator is responsible for recording the agreement on Form P-S-99 (new Form 11PE099E), Mediation Agreement. Form P-S-99 (new Form number 11PE099E) is then signed by both parties to the dispute as well as the mediator. A copy of the signed Form P-S-99 (new Form 11PE099E) is provided to both parties.
(h) DHS grievance manager notification. The DHS grievance manager will review the agreement for compliance with the Merit Rules for Employment and DHS policy and notify the parties of acceptance of the mediation agreement. Any decision not to accept a mediation agreement will be explained in writing.
(1) When the mediation agreement is not accepted, the DHS grievance manager provides the parties an opportunity to resume mediation or advises the parties of their rights, if any, to pursue the issue(s) through the DHS grievance procedure.
(2) The employee who enters mediation after filing a formal grievance may continue his or her grievance by notifying the DHS grievance manager within five working days of the conclusion of the mediation session. The grievance is then processed in accordance with the steps and time limits established by the DHS employee grievance procedure.
(i) Time limits for continuation of grievance. An agreement to enter into mediation suspends all time limits for the DHS employee grievance procedure. For the purpose of tolling the time limits, such tolling shall commence on the date the initiating party agrees to mediate and will end on the date the mediation is officially terminated by the mediator or program manager.
(j) Records. Records created as the result of a mediation session are maintained by the DHS grievance manager and are separate from the employee's personnel files. Access to mediation records is limited to the DHS grievance manager and the parties.
(k) Leave to attend mediation sessions. Employees participating in a mediation session are not charged leave to attend the session and are eligible to receive travel reimbursement. Employees must notify their supervisors of the scheduled mediation session.
(l) Mediation agreement review. The DHS grievance manager is responsible for the review and documentation of all mediation agreements. Review of mediation agreements will be conducted 30 days following the conclusion of the mediation session or as necessary to finalize the case.