How do I request a settlement judge conference?|
To request a settlement judge conference, you may
- e-mail us at email@example.com, or
- send us a fax at (202) 693-7365, or
- write to us at
- Office of Administrative Law Judges
United States Department of Labor
Suite 400 North
800 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-8002
When making the request, it is important that you provide the OALJ Case Number (e.g.,
1999-LHC-3000), and state the position of the other party or parties to the
proceeding because settlement judge conferences require the voluntary participation of all parties
to the matter. It is also very helpful to
provide the telephone and fax numbers of the various representatives or pro se litigants so that
the settlement judge
appointment and conference can be facilitated.
The sample form below may be used for requesting a settlement judge, but there is no
that this form be used.
- Adobe PDF Version
- HTML Version
For more information, call the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge at (202) 693-7542.
What is a settlement judge proceeding?|
A settlement judge proceeding is court-sponsored mediation. A settlement judge is an
law judge familiar with the procedure and subject matter of Department of Labor adjudications,
trained in alternative dispute resolution techniques. The settlement judge is authorized to consult
the parties and assist them in resolving a dispute without the need for a formal administrative
Settlement judge conferences are off-the-record, and are relatively informal in comparison to the
normal hearing process, which is similar to a trial. The settlement judge adjusts his or her role to
circumstances of the case, and may act as a moderator, facilitator, and intermediary. The
judge will focus on realistically assessing the prospects of each side to the dispute, the risks and
further litigation, the interests of the parties, and the benefits each side can gain through
settlement judge may meet with counsel both together and separately. Follow-up conferences
may be conducted.
Because settlement judges are also administrative law judges, they likewise benefit from the
of the Administrative Procedure Act that protect ALJs from improper influences and ensure
independence from the agency. Thus, settlement judges are strictly impartial and will not act as
advocate for any party -- although he or she will undoubtedly be a determined advocate for
of the case. There is no guarantee, however, that a particular case will settle, and a settlement
will not attempt to force any party to settle.
Settlement judge proceeding are based on the voluntary participation of the parties. If at any time
party concludes that he or she no longer wishes to pursue the settlement judge process, the matter
referred back to the administrative law judge assigned to preside over the formal hearing.
The duration of the settlement judge's appointment is limited in order to prevent the settlement
procedure from contributing to administrative delay, and to ensure that a formal proceeding will
forthwith if a settlement is not reached. If the parties and the settlement judge agree that
additional fruitful negotiations are possible, however, the settlement judge's appointment may be
Is a fee charged for the settlement judge's services?|
No. The Department does not charge fees for the services of a settlement judge.
What cases are eligible?|
Most types of cases heard by OALJ are eligible for a Settlement Judge conference. Those that are
not eligible or appropriate for ADR include black lung claims and appeals of denials of
permanent alien labor certification. In addition, the Pension and Welfare Benefits
prefers to use its own highly successful internal ADR process in cases involving civil money
imposed pursuant to ERISA § 502(c)(2) and (i). Settlement judges are frequently used in
such nuclear and environmental whistleblower complaints, OFCCP actions, and JTPA disputes.
In 1999, the
procedure was extended for use in longshore workers' compensation cases.
[See Chief Judge's letter to Longshore bar [PDF
format]. Settlement judges are not available in longshore cases while the matter is still pending before OWCP.
Are settlement judge conferences confidential?|
Although settlement judge conferences will be kept confidential to the extent possible,
participants should be aware that there are circumstances in which disclosure of information from
settlement judge conference may be required by operation of law or ordered by a court.
provided in settlement judge conferences are exempt from disclosure under FOIA. See 5
U.S.C. § 574(j). If a discovery request or other legal process is made on a settlement judge
regarding a confidential communication made during the settlement judge conference, the
judge will make reasonable efforts to notify the parties and any affected nonparty participants of
demand, to provide them with an opportunity to defend a refusal of the settlement judge to
requested information. See 5 U.S.C. § 574(e). Please note, however, that if the
or affected nonparty participant does not make an offer to defend, they will be considered to have
waived any objection to disclosure. See 5 U.S.C. § 574(e).
The Department of Labor's settlement judge rule describes, in part, the limits of confidentiality at
C.F.R. § 18.9(e)(8). Importantly, under the Department of Labor rule, the settlement judge
prohibited from discussing any aspect of the case with the presiding judge, and no evidence
statements or conduct in the settlement judge proceedings will be admissible in the instant
any subsequent administrative proceeding before the Department, except by stipulation of the
For more explicit detail on the limits of confidentiality in administrative alternative dispute
programs, however, see this excerpt from The Department of
the Air Force's Mediation Guidance
Parties concerned about limitations on confidentiality should take note that since the settlement
program was established in 1993, no settlement judge has been the subject of a discovery request
confidential information concerning a settlement judge conference.
What happens if a settlement is reached?|
If a settlement is reached, the settlement will be treated as would any other case that is settled
of the services of settlement judge. Department of Labor proceedings vary considerably in how
settlements or consent findings are handled. In addition, the agreement of the parties itself may
whether the settlement or consent findings must be submitted to the presiding ALJ.
Some whistleblower cases, for example, must be reviewed and approved by the presiding ALJ
the Administrative Review Board, before the case is dismissed from the adjudicatory docket. In
types of cases, the settlement may require the presiding judge to approve consent findings. In
types of cases, it may be sufficient for the parties to simply stipulate to dismissal of the ALJ
The settlement judge should be able to assist the parties in determining on the requirements for
What happens if the parties are not able to settle the
If a settlement conference is unsuccessful, or only partially successful, the case is returned to the
presiding administrative law judge without comment, and the formal hearing process
- Settlement Judge
Rule, 29 C.F.R. § 18.9(e)
Administrative Dispute Resolution Act,
Pub. Law 101-552 and Pub. Law 102-354, as amended by Pub. Law 104-320
- Administrative Dispute Resolution Act
of 1996, P.L. 104-320, 110 Stat. 2870
(Oct. 29, 1996)
- Amendment to OALJ
Rules of Practice: Final Rule, Use of Settlement Judges in
Longshore and Related Proceedings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, 64
Fed. Reg. 47087 (Aug. 27, 1999)
- HTML Version
- PDF Version
- Final Rule, OSHRC,
29 CFR Part 2200, Rules
of Procedure, 64 Fed. Reg. 8243 (Feb.
- OSHRC will require "Settlement Part Judge" referral of all cases
where penalty proposed is $200,000 or greater. One year trial regulation. OALJ's settlement
judge rule, in contrast, is entirely voluntary.
- Notice, Expanded Use
of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Programs Administered by the Department of
Labor, 62 Fed. Reg.
6690 (Feb. 12, 1997)
- Board of Contract
Appeals Alternative Dispute Resolution Sharing Arrangement
of Settlement Judges in Proceedings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges; Final
Rule, 58 Fed. Reg. 38498 (July 16,
- Use of Settlement
Judges in Proceedings Before the
Office of Administrative Law Judges; Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 58 Fed. Reg. 3822
(Jan. 11, 1993)