29 CFR 18.13 - Discovery methods.
(a) How initiated. The Office of Administrative Law Judges provides settlement judges to aid the parties in resolving the matter that is the subject of the controversy. Upon a joint request by the parties or upon referral by the judge when no party objects, the Chief Judge may appoint a settlement judge. A settlement judge will not be appointed when settlement proceedings would be inconsistent with a statute, regulation, or executive order.
(b) Appointment. The Chief Judge has discretion to appoint a settlement judge, who must be an active or retired judge. The settlement judge will not be appointed to hear and decide the case or approve the settlement without the parties' consent and the approval of the Chief Judge.
(c) Duration of settlement proceeding. Unless the Chief Judge directs otherwise, settlement negotiations under this section must be completed within 60 days from the date of the settlement judge's appointment. The settlement judge may request that the Chief Judge extend the appointment. The negotiations will be terminated if a party withdraws from participation, or if the settlement judge determines that further negotiations would be unproductive or inappropriate.
(d) Powers of the settlement judge. The settlement judge may convene settlement conferences; require the parties or their representatives to attend with full authority to settle any disputes; and impose other reasonable requirements to expedite an amicable resolution of the case.
(e) Stay of proceedings before presiding judge. The appointment of a settlement judge does not stay any aspect of the proceeding before the presiding judge. Any motion to stay must be directed to the presiding judge.
(f) Settlement conferences. Settlement conferences may be conducted by telephone, videoconference or in person at the discretion of the settlement judge after considering the nature of the case, location of the participants, availability of technology, and efficiency of administration.
(g) Confidentiality. All discussions with the settlement judge are confidential; none may be recorded or transcribed. The settlement judge must not disclose any confidential communications made during settlement proceedings, except as required by statute, executive order, or court order. The settlement judge may not be subpoenaed or called as a witness in any hearing of the case or any subsequent administrative proceedings before the Department to testify to statements made or conduct during the settlement discussions.
(h) Report. The parties must promptly inform the presiding judge of the outcome of the settlement negotiations. If a settlement is reached, the parties must submit the required documents to the presiding judge within 14 days of the conclusion of settlement discussions unless the presiding judge orders otherwise.
(i) Non-reviewable decisions. Whether a settlement judge should be appointed, the selection of a particular settlement judge, and the termination of proceedings under this section are matters not subject to review by Department officials.