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Frequently Asked Questions

Alternative Dispute Resolution

What is the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (ADRP)?

The ADRP includes a variety of procedures used to replace or supplement formal grievance or hearing procedures to resolve issues. Negotiation conferences, preparation conferences, summary conferences, mediation, and arbitration are examples of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures.

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What is the purpose of ADRP?

ADR gives state agencies, employees, and applicants for state employment an economical option for resolving appeals, disputes, and conflicts.

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What are the advantages of ADR for me?

  • It is less formal and intimidating than traditional hearings;
  • It takes less time and money than formal hearings;
  • A neutral expert on the Oklahoma Personnel Act and Merit Rules helps resolve the conflict;
  • All parties are directly involved, and
  • ADR offers more opportunities to preserve effective working relationships than formal hearings.

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How is ADR used in the appeals process?

ADR procedures replace or supplement formal hearing procedures in the appeals process. For example, a negotiation conference is an ADR procedure appropriate for any type of appeal filed with the Merit Protection Commission (Commission). The Commission normally schedules a negotiation conference to assist parties in resolving the dispute(s) and settling the appeal before scheduling a formal hearing or other alternative dispute resolution procedures.

Types of appeals automatically scheduled for hearing

If the parties do not reach a settlement during the negotiation conference, the Commission automatically schedules certain types of appeals for hearing before an Administrative Hearing Officer. These types of appeals include:

  • adverse action appeals of permanent classified employees from discharge, involuntary demotion or suspension without pay of four calendar days or more.
  • appeals in which a determination has been made that a violation of the Whistleblower Statute (74 O.S. ? 840-2.5) may have occurred.

Option: Parties to a type of appeal normally scheduled for hearing before an Administrative Hearing Officer may, instead, voluntarily agree to resolution through ADR.

Types of Appeals normally scheduled for ADR

If the parties do not reach a settlement during the negotiation conference, the Commission usually schedules certain types of appeals for other ADR procedures. These types of appeals include:

  • adverse action appeals of a permanent classified employee of a suspension without pay of three calendar days or less;
  • payroll claim protests; and
  • all other appeals in which a determination has been made that a violation within the Commission's jurisdiction may have occurred.

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What should I know about negotiation conferences?

A negotiation conference provides an opportunity for you to resolve the issues of an appeal and discuss settlement with other parties and a neutral facilitator. All parties must provide a settlement offer at the conference.

You speak for yourself at the negotiation conference, but you and other parties may each have a representative accompany you to act in an advisory role.

A negotiation conference is informal and not open to the public. It is a confidential procedure and cannot be filmed or taped.

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What should I know about preparation conferences?

A preparation conference gives you and the other party(ies) an opportunity to discuss your cases with each other and a neutral facilitator. The purpose of a preparation conference is to clarify, isolate, and dispose of procedural issues before any further ADR procedure. Each party provides copies of the following documents to the other party(ies) and to the facilitator:

  1. a brief statement of the case including a list of what you agree to and the remedy you seek;
  2. a list of the names and addresses of witnesses you want to subpoena and a brief statement of the testimony each witness has to offer; (Each witness must have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the issues in dispute.)
  3. a list of documents associated with the issues in dispute. You must attach the original or a copy of each document to your list; and
  4. a description of any of your discovery requirements.

You and the other party(ies) may have representatives at the preparation conference to speak and act on behalf of the party they represent.

A preparation conference is informal and not open to the public. The facilitator makes an audio recording of the conference.

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What should I know about summary conferences?

A summary conference gives the parties two hours to present an explanation and documentation of their cases for decision by a neutral facilitator or panel of facilitators.

Each party may have a representative at the summary conference to speak and act on his or her behalf.

A summary conference is informal and open to the public. The facilitator(s) makes an audio recording of the conference.

Within 10 calendar days after the summary conference, the facilitator(s) files a proposed order with the Commission. The Commission issues the proposed order to each party within five calendar days after receiving it. Any party may file a response to the proposed order within 10 calendar days after the Commission issues it.

Within 10 calendar days after the expiration of the time limit for receipt of responses to the proposed order, the facilitator(s) files a final order with the Commission. The Commission issues the final order to each party within five calendar days after receiving it.

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What should I know about binding arbitration conferences?

A binding arbitration conference gives all parties an opportunity to present witnesses and evidence in support of their cases before a neutral facilitator or panel of facilitators.

A binding arbitration conference is informal and open to the public. The facilitator(s) makes an audio recording of the conference.

Each party may have a representative at the Binding Arbitration Conference to speak and act on his or her behalf.

Within 10 calendar days after the binding arbitration conference, the facilitator(s) files a proposed order with the Commission. The Commission issues the proposed order to each party within five calendar days after receiving it. Any party may file a response to the proposed order within 10 calendar days after the Commission issues it.

Within 10 calendar days after the expiration of the time limit for receipt of responses to the proposed order, the facilitator(s) files a final order with the Commission. That final order will be issued to each party within five calendar days after receipt.

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What should I know about a non-binding arbitration conference?

A non-binding arbitration conference gives parties an opportunity to present witnesses and evidence in support of their cases before a neutral facilitator or a panel of facilitators.

The non-binding arbitration conference is identical to the binding arbitration conference with one exception. Within 10 calendar days after the date the Commission issues the final order, any party may file a request for the Commission to reject the order and schedule the matter before an Administrative Hearing Officer. Within seven calendar days after receiving a timely filed request for rejection, the Commission schedules a prehearing conference and hearing.

If the final decision to sustain or deny the appeal is the same as the final decision in the non-binding arbitration conference, or if the filing party fails to advance or gain in the decision, that party will bear the costs of the hearing. The costs of the hearing include costs to the Commission, costs of witnesses appearing at the hearing, and reasonable attorney fees and costs.

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What if I disagree with a final decision made through ADR?

If you disagree with the final decision in the Summary Conference or the Binding or Non-Binding Arbitration Conference, you may petition the Commissioners to order rehearing, reopening or reconsideration of the decision. You must file the petition within ten calendar days after you receive the final decision. See Section 317 of Title 75 of the Oklahoma Statutes and the Commission rules for more information about petitions for reconsideration.

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How can I get more information about ADR?

Read:

Contact the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission by:

  • E-mail
  • Telephone: (405) 525-9144
  • Regular mail:

    Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission
    3545 NW 58th Street, Suite 360
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105