303: Dispute Resolution
The University’s dispute resolution policy provides employees with a systematic review process to help resolve complaints about inappropriate treatment or actions that have not been resolved.
Every employee should discuss and attempt to solve disputes with the immediate supervisor or department head. If the issue cannot be resolved within the department, the employee may contact the appropriate Human Resources department.
The University has established a dispute resolution policy and procedures to promote good employee/management relations. Employees and managers should work effectively to resolve disputes at the lowest possible level.
All University employees are eligible to seek formal dispute resolution, except the following:
- Newly hired, probationary employees
- Employees covered by a union grievance procedure
- Senior level executives
- Senior level professionals
- Professional Librarians (currently covered under the faculty Grievance Procedure.)
- Temporary or special employees
Employees who believe they have been discriminated against or harassed in violation of University equal employment and affirmative action policies should contact the Office of Affirmative Action. The University maintains a separate dispute resolution process for discrimination cases according to the University’s Affirmative Action Program.
The Human Resources department must receive written notice of a dispute within 30 calendar days of the disputed event.
Departmental Problem Resolution
An employee will first seek informal problem resolution with the supervisor. If the dispute specifically involves the supervisor, the employee will discuss the problem with the next level of management.
The supervisor or higher level manager will investigate the complaint and take steps to resolve the problem. Supervisors and managers are strongly encouraged to resolve disputes within the department. The supervisor or higher level manager will document the issue, steps taken to attempt to resolve the problem, and the outcome. A written response will be presented to the employee.
If the employee believes the problem has not been resolved within the department, the next level of dispute resolution is available.
Human Resources Level Dispute Resolution
All dispute resolution must be initiated within 30 calendar days of the event with the Human Resources representative designated to hear disputes. The representative will notify the employee’s department that a dispute has been filed.
The Human Resources representative will facilitate communication about the dispute between the employee and the department. The representative and the department will investigate the problem and take steps to attempt to resolve the complaint.
A written response to the dispute will be given to the employee by the appropriate Human Resources representative within 15 working days of the date the dispute was filed, unless additional time is needed in which case the employee will be informed of the expected date of response.
Board Level Dispute Resolution
If the employee is not satisfied with the response reached at the Human Resources level, the employee may submit the dispute, in writing, for a review by an Employee Relations Hearing Board. A Board Level Dispute Resolution request must be filed by the employee within 10 working days after receiving a response from Human Resources.
The following are personnel actions that may be brought to the Board Level Dispute Resolution for review:
- Disciplinary suspensions
- Disciplinary demotions
In the case of other personnel actions, the response by the Human Resources Department is final.
An Employee Relations Hearing Board will be convened to review the dispute within 15 working days after receipt of the written request for a Board Level Dispute Resolution. If additional time is needed to convene the Board, the 15 days may be extended. The employee and the employee’s department head will be notified in writing of the dispute resolution proceedings.
An employee seeking dispute resolution may select an individual to serve as an employee advisor during the proceedings. The employee has the right to request information, other than confidential personnel files or other information about another employee, or seek information related to the dispute. The department may select an individual to serve as a departmental representative during the proceedings. The department may also seek information related to the dispute.
Employee Relations Hearing Board
The Employee Relations Hearing Board will conduct an impartial review to determine the facts and circumstances of the case. The Board will make a recommendation within 20 working days from the date the Board first convenes. If additional time is needed to complete the review, the 20 days may be extended.
All information obtained during a dispute resolution hearing and the final recommendation of the Hearing Board are confidential. Only information required to satisfy the reporting provisions of this dispute resolution procedure may be released unless otherwise approved by the Senior Vice President.
The Board’s report, containing specific facts and findings, the basis for the recommendation, and the recommendation, will be submitted to the Senior Vice President. The Senior Vice President is responsible for the final disposition of the case within 10 working days after receiving the recommendation from the Board. If the Senior Vice President needs additional time, the 10 day period may be extended.
When the Senior Vice President has reached a decision, the Board’s Recorder will communicate this decision in writing to the employee and the employee’s department head. The decision of the Senior Vice President is final.
Dispute Resolution Committee and Hearing Boards
The Senior Vice President will appoint 25 employees to the Employee Relations Dispute Resolution Committee. These appointees are a mix of majority group/minority group, male/female, supervisor/non-supervisory employees selected from the various areas of the University.
Members of the Employee Relations Dispute Resolution Committee are assigned to an Employee Relations Hearing Board. Each board consists of three members. The appropriate Human Resources department designates the members to serve on each board. Board members for disputes from academic and administrative professional employees will be academic and administrative professional employees.
Special Ad Hoc Employee Relations Hearing Board
The department or the employee who has submitted a dispute may request the appointment of a Special Ad Hoc Hearing Board, consisting entirely of members who are supervisors, to review a dispute registered by an employee who is a supervisor. The appropriate Human Resources department will appoint the board from the supervisory members of the Employee Relations Dispute Resolution Committee.
Expedited Dispute Resolution
An employee, at his/her option, may elect the full Board procedure as outlined above for appeals of disciplinary suspensions, disciplinary demotions or dismissals, or the expedited procedure as outlined below, but not both–provided, however, the employee is otherwise eligible to submit the dispute under this policy. Once the election has been made, the employee will be limited to proceeding under the elected procedure.
To elect the expedited procedure, the employee submits the request for expedited review to the appropriate Human Resources
department within fifteen (15) days of the response to the dispute by the Human Resources Department. Such election shall be in writing and signed by the employee. The appropriate Human Resources department shall designate a hearing officer who will conduct a review within 7 days of receipt of said dispute. If additional time is needed to conduct the review, the 7 days may be extended.
Participants in the review shall include the employee who submitted the dispute, the appropriate department representative, witnesses for both parties, and a representative from the Human Resources Department who shall serve as the technical advisor. The employee may be advised by another University/Hospital employee of his/her choosing.
The Hearing Officer shall render a decision within five (5) working days from the date of the review, which shall be final.
Employees, supervisors, department heads, the Human Resources departments, the Dispute Resolution committees and hearing boards, hearing officers and the Senior Vice President are responsible for performing the tasks and duties outlined in this policy. Any dispute concerning proper procedures or standards under this policy is to be resolved by the Senior Vice President.
Contact the appropriate Human Resources department if you have questions about this policy or if you would like more information.