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Dispute Resolution

Dispute Resolution Policy

Applies to all employees.

Policy Statement:  Situations may occur where an employee believes that the fair and consistent application of a policy affecting him or her has not been followed. In most cases, the University expects that the employee will be able to satisfactorily address their concerns within his or her work area or group. However, when a recent or continuing problem has not been resolved within a particular work area or group, the University wishes to provide employees an alternative vehicle for doing so. No employee shall be subjected to discrimination or adverse treatment for participating in the dispute resolution process.

Definitions: A dispute is defined as a claim that the University has violated a published policy in the manner in which an employee was treated. Disputes do not involve claims of possible discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment or sexual orientation), religion, creed, age, handicap, national origin, or status as a veteran. Employees wishing to pursue claims of discrimination must contact the Office of Human Resources or any member of management with whom the employee feels comfortable.

Disputes over salary grades or salary/rate of pay, or disputes over a supervisor’s judgment regarding job performance or professional competence should be brought to Bill Jenkins, assistant director for human resources, or Sandy Chung, director of human resources.  An employee with these concerns is encouraged to discuss them with human resources, department head, department manager or supervisor, or the appropriate contact within the applicable dean or vice president’s office. The Office of Human Resources will determine whether or not a dispute is within the scope of this policy.

Procedure: The University’s dispute resolution procedure consists of two steps: (1) Step I–Informal, (2) Step II–Formal.

Time Limits:  If an employee waits an unreasonable length of time before submitting his or her dispute or proceeding to the next step, the fact-finding process could be difficult and appropriate action difficult to pursue. As such, employees are strongly encouraged to follow the time limits set forth below. The director of human resources, or her/his designee, may waive the time limits if extenuating circumstances prevent the timely filing under the dispute resolution process.

The following time limits apply to this procedure:

Step I – Dispute must be filed within 14 days of the event(s) that led to the concern.

Step II –The dispute must be filed at Step II within 14 days of the supervisor’s written response at Step I.

Step I – Informal Step

In many cases, disputes over the application or interpretation of policy can be resolved through communications within a particular department or work area. As such, the first step in the dispute resolution process is a discussion between the employee and the supervisor or the Office of Human Resources. The employee can initiate this step in one of two ways:

a) Talk with his or her supervisor. The employee should promptly bring the matter to the attention of the immediate supervisor, explaining the nature of the problem and the relief sought. The supervisor should respond within three business days, if possible. If the supervisor provides an oral response to the employee, the supervisor should prepare a written record of the response.

b) Talk with the Office of Human Resources. If an employee cannot decide whether or not to initiate the dispute resolution process or is reluctant to discuss the matter with the supervisor, he/she may seek the advice from the Office of Human Resources who may seek to resolve the issue by discussions with the supervisor. The Office of Human Resources or the supervisor should provide a written response to the employee at the completion of this process.

If the informal procedure fails to resolve the dispute, and the employee wishes to continue the matter, the employee must begin the steps of the formal procedure no later than 14 calendar days after the receipt of the supervisor’s response.

Step II – Formal Step 1

If the matter is not resolved at Step I, the employee may proceed to Step II by submitting a written statement to the director of human resources or assistant director for human resources. This statement should outline the relevant facts that form the basis of the employee’s dispute, indicating the University policy that has allegedly been violated, and stating the resolution sought. The statement should also identify the supervisor who was involved at Step I.  Upon receipt of the employee’s written statement, the director of human resources, or her/his designee, will:

 a) Advise the employee’s department head of the concern and determine if the Step I procedure was complied with. (If the Step I procedure was not followed, the director of human resources  or her/his designee will refer the employee back to Step I unless the director of human resources determines that such referral is not likely to resolve the matter.)

b) Schedule a meeting with the employee, the department head, and the employee’s supervisor. The meeting should be held promptly (if possible within 14 calendar days of receipt of the employee’s written statement).

c) Act as chairperson of the meeting, hear both sides of the dispute, render a written decision following the hearing, and provide the parties with copies of the decision.

Note:  If the employee wishes, a fellow University employee may accompany him/her to the Step II meeting to provide support. However, this effort at resolution is not to be regarded as an adversarial proceeding and is not subject to the legal procedures of a court of law. The presence of legal counsel at the meeting is not permitted. Note taking is allowed, but tape recording of the meeting is prohibited.