Formal mediations consist of a mediator, who may be a former judge, and the parties with their representatives. Witnesses usually do not attend mediation hearings.
While each mediation session is run according to how the mediator directs it, there are some general procedures that all employment mediations have in common. The person who brought the complaint (or his or her attorney) will talk about why he or she filed the suit, what happened, and why these actions broke current laws. The mediator may ask questions and bring up issues that were not mentioned. The employer (or its attorney) will tell its side of the story. Again, the mediator will probably ask the employer questions. Much of the information gathered by the mediator at this point will be facts that the parties agree upon and evidence for each side. The mediator may go back and ask each party how the events impacted their lives, what they learned from this, or what they would do differently.
In the next phase the mediator may want to discuss what each party wants. This is the compromise phase. You should go into mediation with a clear idea of what you are asking for and you are willing to compromise on. In this phase the mediator may speak with each side separately until a settlement is brokered or both sides decide to stop the mediation process.