photo of the first graduating class of the Mediation Project
The first graduating class of the Mediation Project.

Brazilian Immigrant Center Reaches Out To Help

In her work as Director of the legal clinic at the Brazilian Immigrant Center, Lydia Edwards has talked to a wide range of people with legal problems. Many of the most frustrating issues came from domestic workers: nannies, housekeepers and others who worked in and sometimes lived in their employers’ homes. The complaints ranged from wage issues, working conditions, harassment and a lack of respect for the work they performed.

Although Attorney Edwards knew that the court system could address some of these issues, she believed what would be most useful would be a system involving the workers and employers themselves as part of the solution. From this belief the Center’s Domestic Worker/Employed Mediation Project emerged. “This mediation program is designed by workers and families for workers and families”, said Attorney Edwards. This project helps both workers and employers to resolve conflicts with a positive outcome for both sides. This goal is helped by the fact that the teams of trained mediators assigned to each case are workers and employers themselves.

Consumers and PCAs

The Center is now reaching out to the consumer/employer population and the PCA workforce. The Center wants to assist in the resolution of existing disputes and wants to recruit consumers and PCAs for training as mediators. Training in how to be a neutral mediator consistent with professional mediation standards is provided through a thirty hour program that is specially designed for these workers and their employers by the Community Dispute Settlement Center in Cambridge. One participant said of the course, “I didn’t just learn about mediation, I learned incredible life skills that help me to this day.”

“We are proud of having a program that is private, flexible and diverse”, said Attorney Edwards. “We believe this approach has a lot to offer the consumer and PCA communities.” To date the project has graduated two classes totaling thirty-three mediators, including one consumer and two PCAs. In order to obtain further information on training to be a mediator or using the project to resolve an existing dispute, you can call 617-783-8001 ext. 107 or email mediation@braziliancenter.org.