Mediation Role-Play:

John & MaryWorkplace mediation involving allegations of sexual harassment

James Lawrence
Five- or six-person mediation between manufacturing company management and a former employee (and their respective counsel) regarding the employee's departure amid allegations of sexual harassment; optional extra role for manager accused of harassment

Please note: you must order multiple copies in order to run this simulation. You should order a copy for every person participating in the simulation.

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Econ Inc. is a laser manufacturer with 150 employees. Twenty-five-year-old Mary Marks was previously employed at Econ as a first-shift laser operator. Mary is currently married to her second husband and has had two consensual affairs with coworkers. Mary’s supervisor was John Jump, a 49-year-old foreman, who is married and cares for an extremely ill spouse on the evenings.

John and Mary entered into what was initially a consensual affair. John claims that the affair ended when he began another relationship; Mary claims that it ended when she resisted John’s more amorous advances. Following their relationship, Mary’s work performance worsened, and she quit. She later claimed that she was forced to quit because of the sexually hostile environment caused by John. A mediation will be held as provided in Econ’s personnel policy.

NOTE: John & Mary involves a mediation between the personnel director and corporate counsel of a laser manufacturer and an employee and her attorney over the employee’s departure amidst allegations of sexual harassment. Mediation is required under the company’s sexual harassment policy.


Time required:

  • 20-40 min. individual preparation (preferable outside of class)
  • 10-15 min. team preparation (outside or in class)
  • 60 min. mediation
  • 45-60 min. debriefing


Group size:

  • 5 (two parties, their respective counsel, and the mediator) or 6 if John Jump, Mary’s former supervisor, is present



  • Confidential Instructions for Econ’s Personnel Director
  • Confidential Instructions for Econ’s Corporate Counsel
  • Confidential Instructions for Mary Marks
  • Confidential Instructions for Mary Marks’ Attorney
  • (Optional) Confidential Instructions for John Jump, Mary’s former supervisor
  • Confidential instructions for the Mediator


Teacher’s Package includes:

  • All of the above
  • Teaching Notes

NOTE:John & Mary was revised in 2008 to provide separate instructions for each of the parties and their counsel. This revision makes for a more robust exercise as it creates some information asymmetries and highlights potential tensions between the principals and their agents. The original Version B (in which the parties and their counsel have identical instructions) is available on special request.



John & Mary Attributes

Time required:
1-2 hours
Number of participants:
Teams involved:
Agent present:
Lawyer, Non-lawyer
Neutral third party present:
Teaching notes available:

PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.