Employee Conflict Resolution and Grievance 



Policy/Procedure Name:

Employee Conflict Resolution and Grievance


Kathy McKinley
Executive Director, Human Resources


Human Resources

Effective Date:

April 3, 2018

Next Review Date:





1C SBCCC 200.94


Policy Statement

Durham Technical Community College provides a fair, reasonable, and readily accessible process for employees to resolve general workplace grievances and complaints as they arise.


The conflict resolution policy establishes a process for all Durham Technical Community College (Durham Tech) employees to seek resolution of work-related problems including, but not limited to, disagreements among employees, workplace issues, violations of College policies or procedures, and claims of harassment or discrimination. This policy does not apply to involuntary dismissal, reduction in force (RIF), or other matters of employment status or disciplinary action unless there is documented evidence that any such action is in violation of written Durham Tech policies or procedures or applicable state or federal law. 


The State Board of Community Colleges (SBCC) requires each college’s board of trustees to establish policies and procedures related to employee conflict resolution. This document outlines the two Durham Tech procedures employees may use to report concerns: Conflict Resolution and Grievance.

Conflict Resolution Procedure

The College encourages employees to use the conflict resolution procedure to settle differences with their co-workers. The conflict resolution procedure applies to issues that are not covered under the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) or Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX). Issues that fall under Title VII or Title IX should be addressed immediately and resolved through the Grievance Procedure below.

To pursue resolution of workplace issues with co-workers, reporting employees should follow the steps below.

  1. Arrange a discussion with the co-worker with whom he/she has a conflict.

  2. If the issue is unresolved after step 1, the reporting employee should bring his/her concerns to his/her direct supervisor. The reporting and responding employees and their supervisor(s) will meet within five (5) working days. The intent of this meeting is to find a resolution that is mutually satisfactory to the employees involved in the initial conflict. The supervisor shall respond in writing to all involved employees within five (5) working days of the meeting. That response will include a summary of the conflict as understood by the supervisor and a preliminary determination. If the complaint involves employees that work under the direction of different supervisors, the supervisors will convene and jointly prepare a written response that includes their understanding of the conflict in question and a proposed outcome.

  3. If the discussion with the immediate supervisor does not resolve the problem to the mutual satisfaction of the reporting employee and the supervisor, or if the supervisor does not respond to the complaint, the reporting employee should submit a written complaint to the second-level supervisor in his/her chain of command. The second-level supervisor receiving the complaint must forward a copy to Human Resources within five (5) working days of the response from the supervisor. The second-level supervisor’s submission should include:

    • A description of the issue, including the date the related incident occurred;

    • Suggestions on ways to resolve the problem;

    • The date when the reporting employee met with his/her immediate supervisor; and

    • A copy of the immediate supervisor’s written response or a summary of his/her verbal response. If the supervisor provided no response, his/her non-response should be noted in the complaint.

Within five (5) working days of receiving the reporting employee’s complaint, the second-level supervisor must schedule a meeting with the reporting employee to discuss the complaint. Within five (5) working days of the discussion, the second-level supervisor should issue a written and oral decision to the reporting employee. This decision must be reviewed by Human Resources prior to the second-level supervisor’s meeting with the employee.

     4. If either the reporting or responding employee is dissatisfied with the proposed outcome or if the supervisors cannot agree on a proposed outcome, the supervisor(s) shall consult with the Executive Director of Human Resources who will make the final determination regarding a resolution.

If either the reporting or responding employee becomes uncomfortable at any time during the process, he/she may seek immediate assistance from Human Resources. If a reporting employee feels that the outcome of the conflict resolution procedure has not resolved the issue, he/she may seek resolution via the Grievance Procedure below.

Grievance Procedure

Employees should use the College’s grievance procedure to address claims related to violations of College policies and procedures or unlawful harassment, including Sexual Misconduct and discrimination. Employees should also use this procedure if they feel that the written conditions of employment or published regulations, policies, or procedures were inequitably applied in an impending disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Title IX complaints should be sent to the Title IX Coordinator who will be responsible for assigning a designated Title IX investigator(s) to conduct a formal investigation. To learn more about Title IX, including how to formally report a Title IX complaint, please consult the Sexual Misconduct/Title IX section of the College’s website.

The employee’s intent to grieve must be stated in writing to Human Resources within five (5) working days of receipt of the written notice of disciplinary action or dismissal. Human Resources will examine the request and then determine whether the established grievance procedure is appropriate.

In the case of a serious violation of conditions of employment or a major infraction of policies or regulations, such as gross misconduct, the action to terminate an employee’s service is final. The employee can only appeal on the grounds that the gross misconduct did not occur, not that he/she was terminated for his/her action.

Reporting employees have the burden to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that their complaint is not arbitrary or capricious.

A grievance must be presented within the time frame shown in the first step of this procedure. If the time limits outlined in each step are not met, the reporting employee may seek next level administrative assistance in obtaining requested relief.

The grievance procedure is as follows:

  1. Documentation Submitted to Human Resources – Employees should begin the grievance process by submitting a grievance form to the Executive Director of Human Resources. Employees must provide a specific statement of the grievance and indicate what solution or remedy they expect. Any documentation that relates to the substance of the grievance or facilitates its understanding should be attached to the grievance form. To preserve their entitlement to have their grievance reviewed under this procedure, employees must submit the grievance form and supporting documentation within twenty (20) working days of the incident or within twenty (20) working days of first learning of its occurrence.

  2. Human Resources Review – The Executive Director of Human Resources will review the documentation and schedule a meeting with the employee within five (5) working days of receipt. The Executive Director of Human Resources will also notify the appropriate vice president of the filed complaint. After a complete and thorough review, Human Resources will determine if a workplace investigation is required. A workplace investigation may require interviewing witnesses; Human Resources will strive to complete investigations within thirty (30) working days. If the Executive Director of Human Resources determines the grievance to be a Title IX complaint, he/she will send the documentation to the Title IX Coordinator. The Executive Director of Human Resources will inform the employee and the respective vice president of the investigation’s outcome and resolution. If the reporting employee is not satisfied with the resolution proposed by Human Resources, he/she shall notify Human Resources in writing within five (5) working days.

  3. Formal Review by Vice President – The respective vice president will review the grievance documentation and the Human Resources recommendation, conduct additional meetings with the involved parties if needed, and consult with the Executive Director of Human Resources. (If the vice president does not agree with the proposed Human Resources resolution, two other vice presidents will review the documentation and make a final decision in consultation with the respective vice president). The respective vice president will inform the reporting employee in writing of the decision within twenty (20) working days of receipt of the employee’s complaint from Human Resources. When the complaint falls across divisions, all respective assistant vice presidents will be responsible for a joint written response to the reporting employee, which will stand as the final decision.

  4. Formal Review by the President – A formal review by the President may only be initiated under the following circumstances:

    • The reporting employee can provide evidence that the decision of the three (3) vice presidents is arbitrary and capricious; and/or

    • The employee can provide additional evidence that was not considered during the original investigation.

Within ten (10) working days, the employee must submit evidence and a written statement to Human Resources requesting formal review by the President, explaining his or her objection to the vice presidents’ decision. Human Resources will forward the grievance and all related documents to the President within five (5) working days of receiving the request.

Upon receipt of the properly prepared grievance, the President will review, investigate, and conduct informal hearings as necessary. He/she will mail a written decision to the employee within thirty (30) working days of receiving the grievance form and supporting documentation. The President’s decision will stand as final, and all proceedings hereunder will be terminated.


Arbitrary – Existing or coming about seemingly at random, by chance, or as a capricious and unreasonable act of will

Capricious –Subject to, led by, or indicative of a sudden, odd notion or unpredictable change

Clear and Convincing Evidence – Evidence that is substantially more probable to be true rather than untrue

Working Days – Days the College is open and operating under a normal schedule. This excludes weekends, closings due to adverse conditions, and holidays.