Ethics Committee Policy and Procedure
The Mediation Association of Colorado (“theMAC”) promotes the highest professional standards of mediation practice and conduct. By joining theMAC, members agree to follow the Model Standards of Conduct for mediators and these Ethics Policy and Procedures. Links to these and other relevant documents are included in the References section.
The Ethics Committee (the “Committee”) fosters greater public understanding and trust in the mediation process and in theMAC member mediators (the “Members”) and serves on behalf of theMAC as a resource to address actual or hypothetical questions regarding mediation. To these ends, the Committee:
- provides information and educational opportunities;
- responds to inquiries; and
- helps parties resolve complaints as simply and efficiently as possible.
The committee consists of at least three members, and chooses its chair, who is an ex officio member of theMAC Board of Directors (the “Board”).
The Committee holds as a primary objective the education of members and the public about professional standards of mediation practice and conduct. The Committee may illustrate mediation standards through articles, classes, workshops, and/or case studies. In presenting actual cases, the Committee eliminates or alters personal or private information to maintain confidentiality.
Any person may inquire about mediation practice or conduct via mail, email, or phone as outlined on the contact page of theMAC website (http://www.coloradomediation.org/). In an attempt to educate, the Committee responds to inquiries, provides information, and offers opinions.
The Committee does not notify, inform, or take action against Members based on an inquiry and will not investigate or verify the information provided. The Committee treats inquiries confidentially.
Any party or participant may make a complaint against a Member regarding the practice of mediation. The complainant contacts the Committee via mail, email, or phone within 180 days of the end of the mediation, providing their name, the name of the member, and details about their concern. The Committee can address complaints involving only its Members, and does not consider anonymous complaints.
In exploring a complaint, the Committee may communicate separately with the complainant and Member in an attempt to help them resolve all issues. In order to address the complaint, the Member agrees to communicate with the Committee so long as they do not reveal specific details of the original dispute between the parties beyond what is necessary to resolve the complaint. The committee may offer the complainant and Member the opportunity to mediate any unresolved issues without charge for mediator fees. The mediation may be conducted by a member of the Committee or another neutral mediator. The selection of the mediator will be based upon the mediator’s experience, subject knowledge, availability or other factors as well as the preferences of the complainant and Member.
After substantiating a complaint, the Committee may recommend to the Board a membership status change, suspension or termination of a Member based on a pattern or severity of complaints against a Member. The Committee treats all complaints confidentially, but may share with the Board a summary of case information sufficient to allow the Board to make an informed decision.
Any party or participant having made and pursued a complaint against a Member without satisfaction may file a written grievance against that Member. The Committee can address grievances involving only its members, and does not consider anonymous grievances. The grievant contacts the Committee via mail or email within 60 days of the conclusion of the complaint process. The grievant provides the name and contact information of all involved in the mediation, as well as detailed information about the grievance.
The Committee selects a panel of three neutral dispute resolution professionals not involved in earlier resolution efforts based on experience, content knowledge, availability, or other factors to serve as hearing officers without charge for hearing officer fees.
The hearing officers communicate simultaneously with the grievant and the mediator (and/or their representatives) about the hearing, including any pre-hearing conference call; the collection and sharing of documents; the decision about who attends the hearing; and all other matters related to the hearing. In order to address the grievance, the Member agrees to communicate with the hearing officers as long as they do not reveal specific details of the original dispute between the parties beyond what is necessary to resolve the grievance. Upon terminating the hearing, the hearing officers send to the Committee a finding concerning Member conduct and a ruling that may:
- deny the grievance based on lack of information or substantiation; or
- uphold the grievance in whole or part, and decide the outcome of the case that may require, for example, the Member to offer an apology, return all or a portion of the mediation fee, agreeing in writing to commit to or refrain from specific action in the future, or agree to such action as the hearing officers deem appropriate; and or
- uphold the grievance deemed of such severity to recommend to the Committee a membership status change, suspension or termination.
The Committee conveys all findings, rulings and recommendations of the hearing officers via mail or email simultaneously to the grievant and Member within 10 business days after the close of the hearing. The ruling of the hearing officers is final and binding on the grievant and Member, and cannot be appealed, except to correct any clerical, typographical, technical, computational, or procedural errors upon request of the grievant or Member within 10 calendar days of the issuance of the ruling.
If a member fails to abide by the ruling of the hearing officers, or if the hearing officers make a recommendation regarding membership, the committee may recommend to the board a membership status change, suspension or termination. The Committee treats all grievances confidentially, but may share with the Board a summary of case information sufficient to allow the Board to make an informed decision. The Board alone determines whether to carry out a recommendation from the Committee.
Use of Information
Any information resulting from an inquiry, complaint, or grievance is not intended for use or evidence in any legal action involving Members.
- The Colorado Dispute Resolution Act, Section 13-22-301 et seq., Colorado Revised Statute;
- Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (AAA-ABA-ACR 2005) (https://coloradomediation.org/pg12.cfm);
- theMAC website (http://www.coloradomediation.org/);
- Unauthorized Practice of Law (http://www.coloradomediaton.org/pg15.cfm)
Complaint – A process by which a party or participant registers dissatisfaction with the practice or conduct of a Member.
Ethics – The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc. (http://dictionary.reference.com).
Grievance – A process by which a party or participant seeks a ruling against a Member when not fully satisfied with the result of a complaint.
Mediation – A process in which an impartial, trained, neutral third party (a “mediator”) facilitates the resolution of a dispute by assisting the parties to reach voluntary agreement. A mediator promotes communication and understanding, focuses the parties on their interests, and assists them in developing options to make informed decisions. A mediator does not have authority to make decisions for or impose a settlement on the parties.
Participant – Any individual in a mediation or related dispute resolution process who is not a party, yet participates on behalf of one of the parties or in support of the process, such as a legal or personal representative or observer.
Party – An individual or entity named in a dispute who engages in mediation or a related dispute resolution process.
This Policy and Procedures document resulted from an effort to revise the Grievance/Ethics Policy of the Colorado Council of Mediators and Mediation Organizations (CCMO) begun in 2009, with a final recommendation made to the CCMO Board of Directors in November 2010. The CCMO Board adopted the revisions in 2011. The CCMO Ethics Committee responsible for the recommendation consisted of co-chairs Susan Demidovich and Richard Fullerton, and members Joel Bogen and Janice McCubbrey.
The name of the organization changed in 2011 to The Mediation Association of Colorado (theMAC), and the committee once again revised the document in October 2013 to reflect that name change along with other procedural revisions. Committee members responsible for the 2013 changes consisted of co-chairs Susan Demidovich and Richard Fullerton, and member Joel Bogen.
The committee again revised the document in October 2016 to include procedural revisions. Committee members responsible for the 2016 changes consisted of tri-chairs Susan Demidovich, Joel Bogen, and Richard Fullerton, and member Katherine Head.