What is mediation?
Mediation can be a positive alternative to litigation. Mediation saves time and expense, removes uncertainty, and allows the parties to create a resolution of their case in a manner that serves their best interests.
WCB offers the services of administrative law judges (ALJs) trained in the formal mediation process. WCB does not charge a fee to the parties for providing mediation services.
Cases well suited for mediation include the following:
- Mental stress cases
- Complex occupational disease claims
- Cases with old dates of injury that have both accepted and denied conditions
- Cases that also include claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, civil rights claims with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and claims with other employment-related issues
- Cases with permanent total disability claims
- Any other case that the parties consider appropriate for settlement
How does the mediation program work?
WCB's mediation program is voluntary; all parties must want to mediate the dispute. If a case does not settle at mediation, it is put back on the hearing docket. The ALJ who mediates the case will not preside at the hearing, and there is no communication between the ALJ-mediator and the trial ALJ.
If all parties want to pursue mediation, WCB will schedule the mediation as soon as possible, consistent with the schedules of the parties, their representatives, and the ALJ-mediator. Mediations are usually held at the WCB office (e.g., Portland, Salem, Eugene, or Medford) closest to where the parties are located.
The usual attendees at a mediation include the claimant, the claimant's attorney, a representative for the employer/insurer, the attorney for the employer/insurer, and anyone with ultimate settlement authority. In addition, the claimant's spouse or a close family member may attend.
Once all parties have expressed their desire to try mediation, it is expected that all parties will approach the mediation in good faith and commit to working toward resolution. Depending on the complexities of the case, a mediation may take several hours, all day, or even longer to achieve resolution. The ALJ-mediator is committed to stay with the process as long as the parties are making progress.
In an effort to get mediations docketed as quickly as possible, WCB has created an "ALJ-Mediator Availability Calendar." Here's how it works:
On this page, under "Related links," click on the words "ALJ-Mediator Availability Calendar." That will take you to the calendar, which shows the names of the ALJs who potentially are available to do mediations. You can filter by ALJ-mediator, and look at the dates that the ALJ is available to do a mediation. If you identify an ALJ-mediator and a date that works for you, and you subsequently confirm with opposing counsel that the date will work for him or her, you can call the ALJ-mediator's Judicial Assistant and get the mediation scheduled on that date. After the mediation has been scheduled, WCB will remove the ALJ from the "ALJ-Mediator Availability Calendar" on our website.