4.32 Conflict Resolution and Grievance Process - Updated 7/27/15See version history
Conflict resolution is an informal process whereby full-time employees resolve workplace disputes.
A grievance is a formal process whereby a full-time employee alleges a violation, inequitable application, or misinterpretation of a specific College rule, regulation, policy, or procedure pertaining to the employment relationship between the grievant and the College that cannot be resolved through informal conflict resolution avenues.
The College will establish and maintain a work climate within which a full-time employee who seeks assistance in resolving a conflict or a grievance, as defined above, will be afforded the opportunity to have the matter presented and will receive fair and timely consideration according to the following procedure.
This policy establishes an informal and formal process for any full-time employee who claims to have a conflict which cannot be resolved through less formal measures involving supervisors.
IV. Informal Resolution of Conflicts
Employees must exhaust all alternative conflict resolution options listed below prior to utilizing the formal grievance procedure.
A. Employees should bring to the attention of their supervisor(s) any work-related problems as soon as possible after they arise.
B. If attempts to resolve the conflict with the immediate supervisor(s) do not resolve the conflict, the employee may request Employee Relations Assistance by contacting the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee) no later than thirty calendar days following the date of the conflict.
C. Informal Mediation
Employees must, at a minimum, discuss informal mediation options after the employee has requested Employee Relations Assistance; and the employee feels the conflict or alleged violation, inequitable application, or misinterpretation of a specific College rule, regulation, policy, or procedure pertaining to the employment relationship between the grievant and the College is still not resolved (see Policy 4.65 Mediation Program for Employees). The employee may contact the Executive Director of Institutional Equity to discuss the mediation program no later than five working days following the completion of the Employee Relations Assistance process. Both parties must agree to mediation before the process can begin. If informal mediation does not resolve the conflict, the employee still retains the option of filing a formal grievance as detailed in Section V.
V. Formal Grievance Regulations
A formal grievance may only be filed after the employee has requested Employee Relations Assistance and considered the option of the informal mediation process. This grievance procedure applies to any full-time employee. It does not permit a grievance that relates to dismissal, layoff, non-renewal of contract, the designated discipline process referenced in Policies and Procedures 4.38 Employment, Discipline, and Dismissal of Full-Time Classified Employees; 4.07 Appointment, Reappointment, Discipline and Dismissal of Full-Time Administrators; 4.08 Appointment, Reappointment, Discipline and Dismissal of Full-Time Faculty and Librarians; or 4.31 Appointment, Reappointment, Discipline and Dismissal of Full-Time Professional Employees or other matters of employment status except those resulting from violation of College policies and/or procedures. A recommendation to initiate new policy or to change existing policy is handled through normal administrative channels. Information concerning an appeal of dismissal during term of contract or non-renewal of an extendible contract is contained in Policies 4.07, 4.08, and 4.31. If an employee has an allegation of discriminatory treatment or harassment, the employee should refer to 4.60 Discrimination and Harassment Policy. However, in accordance with 4.64 Sexual Misconduct Policy, some forms of harassment may also violate the College's policy against Sexual Misconduct under Title IX. When a report of harassment is received, the Title IX coordinator will determine whether it shall proceed under this policy or the Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures.
A grievance must be presented by the grievant within ten working days following notification from the Executive Director of Institutional Equity that consideration and/or utilization of the informal mediation process has been completed (as outlined in Section IV.C.). The time may be extended by agreement of both parties or by extenuating circumstances as decided by the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee). If the grievant does not meet the stated time limitations, the grievance will be denied and cannot be resubmitted.
Processing timelines for each level of the grievance process are detailed in Section VIII. below. If processing time limitations are not met by the designated reviewer(s) at each level, the grievant may then request that the grievance be elevated to the next level.
VI. Grievance Submission Procedure
An employee with a grievance shall adhere to the following submission requirements:
A. The employee must present the grievance memorandum to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee). The grievance memorandum will be reviewed by the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee) within two working days to determine if it meets the definition of a grievance per this policy. Notification will be provided to the employee in writing as to the status of the grievance (either accepted or denied). Such notification will describe the next procedural steps for the grievance, if accepted.
B. The full-time employee shall state the grievance in memorandum form providing the following:
1. A statement concerning the basis of the grievance that specifies the specific College rule, regulation, policy, or procedure that has allegedly been violated, inequitably applied, or misinterpreted.
2. The attempts made to solve the grievance through immediate supervisors, Employee Relations Assistance, and/or informal mediation.
3. The results of those attempts.
4. The remedy or corrective action sought.
5. The signature of the aggrieved employee on the dated memorandum.
VII. Grievance Processing Procedure
If the grievance is accepted, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee) will determine the level at which the grievance will begin as described below:
A. Level 1 – Department Administrator
When informal attempts to resolve the grievance with the immediate supervisor have been unsuccessful (or in the absence of the immediate supervisor), the grievance may begin with, or be elevated to, the department administrator over the supervisor. The department administrator will be given ten working days to review the grievance and render a decision in writing to be provided to the grievant, the immediate supervisor, and the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee). If the employee is not satisfied with this decision, he/she must notify the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee) within five working days of receipt of the decision and request that the grievance be elevated to the next level.
B. Level 2 – Unit Vice President (Option 1) or Peer Review Board (Option 2)
If not satisfied with the decision made by the department administrator, or in the absence of a department administrator, the grievance may begin with, or be elevated to, either the Peer Review Board as prescribed in Section IX. or to the Unit Vice President as prescribed in Section X. This decision shall be the choice of the grievant.
VIII. The Peer Review Board (Level 2 – Option 2)
The Peer Review Panel will act in an advisory capacity to administrators. The Peer Review Panel assists in overcoming communication barriers and in facilitating the resolution of problems.
A. Composition of the Peer Review Panel
The Peer Review Panel will be composed of five members plus the Executive Assistant to the President serving as the Facilitator. The President of the College Senate and the Facilitator will select the five members of the Panel from the College Senate, Classified Staff Council, and the Leadership Council and will include members of the panel from the involved employee’s peer group. No member of the Panel shall have any personal interest or be directly involved in the grievance under consideration. The Panel shall appoint a substitute when necessary. The Peer Review Panel may remove one of its members by majority vote of such panel.
If the grievant requests a meeting with the Peer Review Panel, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee) will notify the Executive Assistant to the President, who will then schedule and give notice of the Peer Review Panel meeting. The meeting will be held within twenty working days of the request from the grievant. Accommodations will be made for the disabled. Any request for postponement must be submitted in writing to the Facilitator at least three working days prior to the scheduled meeting. The Facilitator reserves the right to extend the notice of the meeting date or the date of the meeting. The Facilitator will forward the grievance memorandum and a similar memorandum from the other party to the Peer Review Panel no later than five working days prior to the date of the meeting.
C. The Panel Meeting
1. The Peer Review Panel meeting shall be closed to the public.
2. The Facilitator will:
a. Convene the meeting.
b. Ensure that the proceedings are conducted in an orderly and impartial manner.
c. Collect and distribute pertinent materials to the Panel members.
d. Forward the Panel’s decision to both parties of the grievance.
3. The Panel will hold separate meetings with each party involved in the grievance. After meeting with each party, the Panel may meet with both parties together if the Panel feels such a meeting is necessary before preparing its written decision. At all meetings the Panel may hear testimony, examine documents, and ask questions as deemed relevant to the grievance.
4. After holding meetings, hearing both parties, and reviewing documents pertinent to the grievance, the Panel may decide whether testimony from other persons will be useful.
5. Each party may be accompanied by an institutional peer who will be present as an observer. The peer will not participate in the meeting but can be consulted by the party whom he/she is accompanying.
6. At the close of the meeting, the Panel will consider the evidence presented and will prepare a written decision. The Facilitator shall ensure that the written decision is submitted to both parties of the grievance, the department administrator, and (when appropriate) to the Unit Vice President (or designee). These copies will be the only ones in existence, will be treated as confidential documents, and will not become part of the official personnel files.
7. After considering the decision from the Peer Review Panel, the department administrator (or the Unit Vice President, when appropriate) shall render his/her final decision in writing within five working days, providing reasons for the determination on the issues.
IX. Unit Vice President (Level 2 – Option 1)
A. If the grievant is not satisfied with the final decision of the department administrator, or in the absence of such administrator, the grievant may request the grievance be presented to the Unit Vice President. The grievant must notify the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee) within five working days of receipt of the final decision of the department administrator and make a request that the grievance be elevated to the Unit Vice President.
B. The Unit Vice President shall be immediately supplied with a copy of all pertinent materials.
C. The Unit Vice President shall have ten working days to render a decision in writing to be provided to the grievant, the immediate supervisor, the department administrator, and the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee).
X. Appeal Procedure
A. If the employee is not satisfied with the decision as recorded in written form by the Unit Vice President, an appeal may be made to the President. The grievant must notify the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee) within five working days of receipt of the final decision of the Unit Vice President and make a request that the grievance be elevated to the President.
B. The President shall have ten working days to render a decision in writing to be provided to the grievant, the immediate supervisor, the department administrator, the Unit Vice President, and the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (or designee). The President’s decision shall be final.
Changes approved by the Board of Trustees on January 9, 2008
Changes approved by Cabinet on July 8, 2002; July 9, 2003; January 25, 2005; December 12, 2007; July 27, 2015