Military News

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Meeting halfway: ADR gets the job done

by Senior Airman Areca T. Bell
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/22/2016 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- No U.S. Airman is the same. Although they all work together to ensure the Air Force remains the world's greatest air, space and cyberspace power, each person may have a different outlook when approaching circumstances.

Sometimes conflicting opinions cause tension between parties due to a lack of understanding from each other's point-of-view. To help achieve open communication and contribution of ideas to constructively resolve conflict in the work center, the 31st Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity Office manages the Alternative Dispute Resolution program.

"Sometimes when people are having an argument, they only see their side of the situation," explained Master Sgt. Melinda Morris, 31st Fighter Wing EO superintendent and ADR manager. "We act as a third, neutral party and try to restore a healthy and happy environment."

The voluntary and confidential program was created after the Administrative Dispute Act of 1996, which called for all federal agencies to adopt and promote ADR.

"This is an avenue for people who can't see eye-to-eye," said Morris. "Conflict has always been around, but healthy conflict resolution hasn't necessarily been the way it is today."

Today, ADR offers many advantages. It promotes the opportunity for parties to speak directly to each other, identify differences and find common ground, which helps create a win-win situation.  Also, the time, resources and money necessary to achieve a resolution at the lowest level is reduced.

"If a complainant comes in and if the root cause may be a lack of communication, a [review] is usually conducted by the Legal Office [to determine if ADR is suitable]," said Morris. "A session is then scheduled. When a settlement is reached, it is routed through the appropriate agencies, whether it is the Legal Office, Civilian Personnel Office or even Air Force Personnel Center."

Additionally, ADR conflicts are resolved in an average of 42 days, which drastically contrasts Equal Employment Opportunity complaints procedures and EEO settlements, which average 405 days and 247 days respectively.

"We are neutral, we don't side with management or the complainant," Morris explained. "We are protectors of the process. We are here to help articulate what the issues are and to help solve them."

For more information on the ADR program, contact the EO Office at 632-5934 or visit www.adr.af.mil.

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