MOUNT VERNON — A mediation was held Wednesday in federal court regarding the lawsuit filed against former Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hess and others.
The lawsuit was filed by six female plaintiffs, who allege Hess engaged in lewd, unwelcome and offensive behavior toward them in the workplace.
Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher said that by law, mediations take close behind closed doors, and neither plaintiffs or defendants may discuss the proceedings.
According to the U.S. District court’s website, mediation is a negotiation process facilitated by a neutral mediator. The site says the mediator’s job is to “fully explore ways that the dispute might be resolved in a way that is mutually acceptable to the parties, rather than by a decision imposed on the parties by a judge or jury. As part of this process, the mediator will help the parties identify and analyze their interests, risks and potential benefits in the context of the litigation. This may include discussion of the merits of each party’s position in the litigation; however, discussion will not be limited to that topic.”
The mediation process is strictly confidential.
“Confidentiality assures the parties that they can be open with the mediator about all aspects of the dispute without fear of prejudicing their positions in the litigation. The more information a mediator has available, the better able he is to fully explore settlement.”
The mediator will meet with both parties individually and separately during the process.
“If an agreement is reached, a written agreement including the material terms will be drafted and signed, or the agreement will be read into the record in the case. If no agreement is reached, but the mediator believes that further settlement efforts would be productive, the mediation will be continued in progress, generally with the parties agreeing to take specific steps that will move them closer to agreement. If an impasse is declared, the assigned judge will be notified that the case was not settled and the mediation has been terminated.”