Is mediation legally binding under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and Defense Base Act (DBA)?
No, arbitration is usually legally binding. Mediation is not. It’s a purely voluntary attempt to resolve issues or resolve the case in its entirety. If the parties reach an agreement at mediation, it will be reduced to writing and signed by the parties. However, that mediation agreement is still not legally binding. If the parties submit an 8(i) settlement application to the Department of Labor and it is approved by either the district director at OWCP or the judge at the Office of Administrative Law Judges, then that document is legally binding.