Mediation is one of the ways to resolve a discrimination complaint at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR). It opens a pathway to talk privately about what happened and voluntarily resolve a complaint. Any party can ask for mediation at any point on the investigation path - before or after a charge is filed. Both parties must agree to go through the process. 

Mediation is a good fit for people that are willing to consider the other person's point of view, and for people that want more control over the outcome compared to investigation. Unlike Investigators, mediators have no say in the outcome; their role is to help each party be heard, understood, and informed about their options. Mediators assist with communicating, negotiating, and problem-solving, especially when things are difficult to talk about.  

Mediation is a flexible process. SOCR strives to make mediation work for all parties. This means you choose how you want to interact with the other people involved and you choose what you want to talk about. Many people find they gain a better understanding of what led to the complaint and are willing to work it out. When people agree, the complaint is withdrawn, and the investigation ends or never begins. When people do not agree, the investigation continues or starts. You can always change your mind; any party can end the process at any time.  

We seek to end racism, discrimination, and to improve outcomes for the people we serve. We structure mediation to meet people where they are. Adding restorative principles in a traditional mediation model is key to our process where reconciling the interests of parties aligns with their sense of justice. SOCR recognizes that mediation opens opportunities to talk and provides space for creative problem-solving that investigations do not. 

If you would like to learn more, call (206) 684-4500.  

Mediation FAQ

You can mediate any time after the discrimination charge is approved and it can be before or after the investigation begins.

No. We have options because we strive to meet however people are most comfortable. The mediator will discuss this with you and the other people involved. 

No. You have the right to get legal advice at any point at your own cost and you can bring your lawyer to mediation. The mediator does not give legal advice. 

You can bring a support person with you. A support person can be a trusted friend, case manager, or representative. The mediator will talk with you about that before mediation begins. We will provide an interpreter if you need one. 

The charge will be withdrawn, and the case closed. The mediator will help you and the other party write out the terms and sign a Settlement Agreement if you want one. Settlement Agreements are kept by the parties and are not available to the public. Some people choose to sign a withdrawal form when they do not feel the need for a written agreement. 

You will not lose your right to an investigation if you try mediating. Anyone can end mediation at any time. If there is no agreement, the Office for Civil Rights will assign an investigator and move forward with the investigation. You may go back to mediation after the investigation has started as well.

No. The only information a mediator can give to an investigator is your contact information and whether you reached an agreement or not. 

No. Mediation is confidential. Recording in any form is prohibited. You cannot have someone watching or listening to a meeting without the other participant's knowledge, record audio or video on your phone, or take screenshots.

To learn more about mediation, contact your investigator. 

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The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) works to advance civil rights and end barriers to equity. We enforce laws against illegal discrimination in employment, housing, public places, and contracting within Seattle.