Employee Conflict Resolution and Grievance 

Number:

3.8

Policy/Procedure Name:

Employee Conflict Resolution and Grievance

Sponsor:

Kathy McKinley
Executive Director, Human Resources

Custodian:

Human Resources

Effective Date:

April 3, 2018; January 31, 2020 (Revision)

Next Review Date:

2024-2025

Location:

durhamtech.edu/policies-and-procedures/employee-conflict-resolution

Citation:

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.

Contact Information

Kathy McKinley
Executive Director, Human Resources
mckinleyk@durhamtech.edu; 919-536-7200, ext. 5102

Angela Davis Special Assistant
Institutional Equity and Inclusion/Affirmative Action Officer
davisa@durhamtech.edu; 919-536-7200, ext. 6002

Purpose

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 and 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.

Procedure

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 this policy’s Grievance Procedure.

To pursue resolution of workplace issues with co-workers, reporting employees should follow the steps below. If either the reporting or responding employee becomes uncomfortable at any time during the process, they may seek immediate assistance from Human Resources, the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, or their direct supervisor to arrange mediation.

  1. Arrange a discussion with the co-worker with whom they have a conflict.

  2. If the issue is unresolved after Step 1, the reporting employee should bring their concerns to their 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 will respond in writing to all involved employees within five (5) working days of the meeting. The 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 their 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 their immediate supervisor; and

    • A copy of the immediate supervisor’s written response or a summary of their verbal response. If the supervisor provided no response, their 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.

  5. If a reporting employee feels that the outcome of the conflict resolution procedure has not resolved the issue, they may seek resolution via the Grievance Procedure below.

Grievance Procedure

Employees should use the grievance procedure to address claims related to violations of College policies and procedures or unlawful harassment.

To address claims of sexual misconduct and discrimination, employees must state their intent to grieve in writing to the Affirmative Action Officer within ten (10) working days of the incident. The statement and accompanying documentation will be examined, and a determination will be made as to whether the established grievance procedure is appropriate. 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.

Employees who 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, must state their intent to grieve in writing to the Executive Director of Human Resources within ten (10) working days of receipt of the written notice of disciplinary action or dismissal. The request will be examined, and a determination will be made as to whether the established grievance procedure is appropriate.

In the case of a serious violation of conditions of employment or a major infraction of regulations, policies, or procedures, 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 they were terminated for their actions.

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.

Reporting employees must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that their complaint is not arbitrary or capricious.

The grievance procedure is as follows:

  1. Documentation Submitted – Employees should begin the grievance process by submitting a grievance form to the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer. 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.

  2. Grievance Review – The Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer will review the documentation and schedule a meeting with the employee within five (5) working days of receipt. The Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer will also notify the appropriate administrator of the filed complaint. After a complete and thorough review, the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer will determine if an investigation is required. An investigation may require interviewing witnesses; the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer will strive to complete investigations within thirty (30) working days. If the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer determines the grievance to be a Title IX complaint, they will send the documentation to the Title IX Coordinator. The Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer will inform the employee and the appropriate administrator of the investigation’s outcome and resolution. If the reporting employee is not satisfied with the resolution proposed, they must notify the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer in writing within five (5) working days.

  3. Formal Review by Appropriate Administrator – The appropriate administrator will review the grievance documentation and the Executive Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer recommendation, conduct additional meetings with the involved parties (if needed), and consult with the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer. If the administrator does not agree with the proposed resolution, two other administrators will review the documentation and make a final decision in consultation with the initial administrator.

    The initial administrator will inform the reporting employee in writing of the decision within twenty (20) working days of receipt of the employee’s grievance from the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer. When the grievance falls across divisions, all appropriate administrators will be responsible for a joint written response to the reporting employee, which will stand as the final decision.

    If a grievance is a) jointly filed by two (2) or more employees, b) filed against an administrator, or c) is designated in writing by the President as involving matters of sufficient seriousness to so warrant, the President may involve legal counsel and the Board of Trustees.

  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) administrators 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 the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer requesting formal review by the President, explaining their objection to the administrator’s decision. The Executive Director of Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Officer 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. The President may involve legal counsel at their discretion. The President 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 thereunder will be terminated.

Prohibition on Providing False Information

Durham Tech places great importance on the integrity of its policies and procedures. False complaints can cause irreparable harm to the College community, regardless of the outcome of an investigation. Accordingly, any employee who knowingly files a false report or complaint, knowingly provides false information, or intentionally misleads College officials will be subject to disciplinary action.

Prohibition on Retaliation

Durham Tech adheres to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines and will not harass, take adverse employment action, or retaliate in any manner against any employee reporting in good faith a concern about unlawful or inappropriate actions or misconduct. Consult the Whistleblower policy for additional information.

Confidentiality

The College will make every reasonable effort to protect the confidentiality of information received in connection with matters of employee conflict and grievances. Information related to these matters will be shared on a need-to-know basis only. College administrators will, however, share information, as appropriate and necessary, in order to address and resolve the concerns at issue and prevent the recurrence of similar situations. There may be instances where it is the College’s ethical and legal responsibility to disclose information regarding the circumstances related to a specific conflict or grievance. Should this be the case, those involved will be notified prior to the information being released.

Definitions

Administrator – For the purposes of this policy, an administrator is a College employee who serves in one of the following roles: President, Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff, or Vice President.

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 highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue. The fact finder must be convinced that the contention is highly probable.

College Official – For the purposes of this policy, a College official is an employee who serves in one of the following roles: President, Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff, Vice President, or Chief of Police.

Complaint – Any oral, unwritten accusation, allegation, or charge

False Information – Any written or verbal statement or representation of fact that is not true and that was made intentionally, knowingly, or without having taken reasonable steps to ascertain whether or not the information was true

Grievance – A formal written allegation that there has been a violation, misinterpretation, misapplication, discriminatory application, or unreasonable application of a College policy, procedure, rule, or regulation

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