Tom Sebok, the Ombuds for University of Colorado at Boulder, has written an essay for the Workplace Bullying Institute Blog. Sebok is wary of mediation for alleged bullies. “I believe mediation can be a useful tool in very limited cases involving bullying. I am much less sanguine about its use more broadly as a tool to reduce or eliminate workplace bullying on college campuses or anywhere else.” For those Ombuds willing to take the risk, he offers some advice.
Sebok believes the principles of restorative justice offer the best guidance for a mediation about bullying.
Under what conditions might one of these restorative practices be useful for addressing workplace bullying? Following the model we used at the University of Colorado at Boulder, first, the person engaging in bullying behavior would have to acknowledge she or he did it and agree not continue to do it. Second, for everyone involved in either process participation would be completely voluntary. Third, the restorative option would be established as an alternative to formal procedures and made available only when the above conditions were met. Therefore, if the mediation or conference did not occur, if it ended with no agreement, or if an agreement were broken, a mechanism would have to be in place to refer the matter to someone with the administrative authority to conduct an investigation and issue sanctions.
Sebok also asserts that laws and policies defining and prohibiting workplace bullying would make mediation a more robust tool for bullying. (WBI Blog.)