Guidebook

Staff Grievance FAQs

Why do we need a formal grievance process?

When parties in conflict believe that informal means have failed to lead to a resolution, the formal grievance process is available. As with direct dialogue, the formal staff grievance resolution process is intended to bring resolution and begin to repair harm.

What are some examples of grievances?

If you have a disagreement with your supervisor, for example you disagree with your performance review, you might consider this a grievance. Another example could be a situation in which you feel that your supervisor or someone in your management chain has shown favoritism. Grievances can also occur between employees, for example you may have a conflict with a colleague that brings their pet to work.

What does a written grievance look like?

Generally, your grievance should include the detailed information about the situation (names, dates, description of events) and any relevant supporting documents (emails, letters, reports, texts, voicemails, photos, etc.). You also might choose to include information about how you have tried to bring resolution so far, and your suggestions for how to further resolve the situation. If you would like assistance with formatting or deciding what information to include, human resources is available to provide support.

What can I expect to happen after I file a grievance?

The person with whom you filed the grievance will communicate with you and the other person(s) involved in the conflict regarding next steps to find resolution and will serve as a resource for all involved parties during this process. Specific steps toward resolution will vary, depending on the nature of the grievance. Often, next steps will include gathering information relevant to the situation, speaking with all involved parties, and identifying appropriate resolutions.

If I file a grievance, does that mean that I will need to interact with the other party?

Conflicts are by their nature uncomfortable. As with all disagreements, it is likely that you will need to interact with the other person in order to resolve the issue. The goal of the resolution process is to reestablish an effective working relationship. If you feel unsafe interacting with the other person, you can work with human resources to develop a plan.

I am the subject of a grievance that another staff member has filed. What can I expect?

You can expect to be notified of the grievance in a timely manner. You can expect to be involved in the resolution process. Human resources is available as a resource for all involved parties, including the subject of a grievance. All involved parties have the same rights and responsibilities to engage honorably and truthfully throughout the process.

Why do we need a hearing board?

The option of convening a hearing board provides the president with an additional means of understanding and resolving staff grievances. The hearing board will be composed of those who are in the best position to help resolve the grievance. Every attempt will be made to avoid conflict of interest. The option of a hearing board allows the president to rely on the expertise of other community members.

Can I opt out of having a hearing board?

It is the president’s decision to convene a hearing board or not, if you make an appeal. The president will take your requests about the hearing board into careful consideration.

Why not have a standing hearing board composed of staff peers?

If we want the staff grievance resolution process to address the most broad range of grievances, we cannot dictate the composition of the hearing board ahead of time. For example, peers wouldn’t be able to address employment matters like pay. The composition of the hearing board and the training they receive will vary according to the type of grievance. The president will consider requests from any party involved regarding composition of the hearing board, however the final decision rests with the president.

What are examples of potential resolutions?

Resolutions will vary depending on the nature of the grievance. In general, the college will take the least punitive action necessary to be confident that the conflict won’t happen again. When you file your grievance with human resources or a VP/Dean, the two of you should discuss all possible resolutions.

What are some possible accommodations that could be made in order to bring resolution?

Resolutions will vary, so it is difficult to predict accommodations ahead of time. In general, accommodations or resolutions should be the least disruptive, least punitive, most fair to both parties, and most sustainable solution. Using the example of a disagreement related to a pet in the workspace, a possible resolution might be that the pet owner may not bring the pet to meetings and should avoid common spaces.

Can I bring a support person and/or attorney with me to grievance related hearings and meetings?

Yes.

What are my rights and responsibilities as either the person filing a grievance or the person who is the subject of a grievance?

  • You have the right to be present at hearings.
  • You have the right to present your own statements and to request consideration of statements by witnesses.
  • You have the right to present written and signed statements in lieu of oral statements.
  • You have the right to review all information included in the grievance, including statements by others.
  • You have the right to decline to answer any question during a hearing.
  • You have the right to be informed of the status of the grievance.
  • You are expected to tell the truth and conduct yourself honorably throughout the process.

What resources are available to participants involved in the grievance process?

In addition to human resources, the employee assistance program (EAP) is a confidential service available to assist employees with any personal concern, large or small. The program offers up to five free sessions per issue, per year with an EAP counselor. Counselors are available by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. You may speak to a counselor over the phone, online, or in person. Contact Cascade Center EAP any time at 1-800-433-2320.

I believe someone has violated a college policy. Should I file a grievance?

It is your decision. You may use the grievance process to resolve these types of conflicts, but you are not compelled to do so. You are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment and address instances whereby you believe a policy may have been violated. Any employee of Reed who in good faith reports an incident as described in the whistleblower policy will be protected from threats of retaliation.

I am a staff member and I have a grievance with a student. Can I use this process?

No. You would follow the honor process as outlined for students. Complaints against students must be filed with the chair of the student judicial board.

I am a staff member and I have a grievance with a faculty member. Can I use this process?

No. You would follow the grievance procedures outlined in the Faculty Handbook under section VI, F.

I am a student and I have a grievance with a staff member. Can I use this process?

No. The staff grievance resolution process is intended to serve staff and is not a means to address other conflicts in our community. If you are a student seeking to resolve a conflict with a staff member, you may discuss the matter with the dean of students, the staff member’s supervisor, or human resources.

I am a faculty member and have a grievance with a staff member. Can I use this process?

No. If you are a faculty member seeking to resolve a conflict with a staff member, you may discuss the matter with the dean of the faculty, the staff member’s supervisor, or human resources.

I am a supervisor. Can direct reports file a grievance against me?

Yes. However, as with other types of grievances, we are all expected to attempt to resolve the conflict first via dialogue and informal means. The grievance process acknowledges that this is not always possible.

I am a supervisor. Can I file a grievance against a direct report?

No. It is inappropriate to file a grievance against someone who reports up to you. You should consult with human resources in all instances where you have a conflict with someone who reports to you.

Who can I talk with if I have questions or concerns about the grievance process?

You may speak confidentially with anyone in human resources. HR cannot offer confidentiality if you share information about illegal or prohibited activity or when someone is in physical danger.

Staff Grievance Process

(last modified: August 23, 2017)