4-3: Employee Concerns and Complaints – Policy

Policy Overview

This policy establishes a means for Santa Fe Community College (SFCC or College) to enable timely resolution of employee concerns and complaints through a collaborative and informal process. It does not constitute a contract, either express or implied, between the College and its employees. This Policy may not be used by independent contractors employed under a professional services agreement.

Scope and Applicability

This policy may be used to resolve concerns and complaints by regular staff, term employees and core faculty, except with respect to those matters that are reserved as the exclusive management rights of the College and those covered by other College policies.

Policy Statement

This policy covers and provides a process for two levels of employee conflict: concerns, defined as minor disagreements or issues; and complaints, which address more serious issues.


  1. College Hearing Council A list of individuals composed of staff and faculty members who are nominated by the governance groups to be council members, have completed the Office of Human Resources’ training, and may be selected to serve as College Hearing Panel members for appeal hearings brought by employees or students.
  2. College Hearing Panel refers to a three-member panel that is formed from the College Hearing Council pool on an as-needed basis to hear appeals of disciplinary action taken by the College against an employee or student.
  3. Complaints Allegations by a student or students that a specific College decision or action, which directly affects that student or students, constitutes a violation of College policy.
  4. Concerns Refer to minor disagreements a student has with another student or College employee; or about a College action or decision that can be resolved through mediation or discussion; or about a College department, department process or facility issue.
  5. Employee is any member of the college workforce: all staff (regular full-time, regular part-time, term, temporary, probationary, sensitive position); all student employees; all faculty (full-time, part-time, adjunct, probationary); all administrators, including interim; all contract employees.
  6. Rights and Responsibilities Reserved by the College are areas that are reserved by the College as exclusive management rights and are not subject to review. The following issues are precluded from review under this policy: 1. Content of College policies; 2. Final interpretation by President of policy or final decision about the application of a policy or resource.The President’s decision is final and binding upon the parties. 3. A review of a decision involving the same student and the same issue but naming another responding person; 4. Decisions or directives of the Governing Board or other external authorities having jurisdiction or programmatic responsibilities over the College; 5. Funding and program priorities; 6. Allocation of resources, staff, equipment, or space; 7. Scheduling of operations, closures, holidays and other events; 8. Overall allocations for tuition and other fee increases; 9. Class schedules and work schedules in order to support student and community needs; 10. Parking violations; and, 11. Any action taken in compliance with a court order, arbitration decision, statutory directive, city or county ordinance, or the administrative ruling, rules or regulations of an authority having jurisdiction over the College.
  7. Working Days means Monday – Friday, except for regularly scheduled holidays.

Policy Process

  1. Employees are encouraged to use good faith in their informal discussions to ensure that workplace relationships are as productive and amicable as possible.
  2. Employees are encouraged to use this process to resolve disputes.
  3. The College strictly prohibits retaliation against an employee using this policy to raise concerns and complaints or to discuss conflicts. Any employee who either directly or indirectly retaliates against another employee engaged in this process may be subject to discipline under Policy 4-2 Employee Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action.
  4. Reporting and Resolving Concerns. There are three steps in the Employee Concern process:
    1. Informal discussion between the parties involved,
    2. Facilitated discussion with the supervisor, and
    3. Mediation
  5. A person who seeks to resolve a concern using this procedure has five working days to initiate the process by notifying the Human Resources Office by any means from the time when the person becomes aware of, or should have reasonably become aware of, the decision, action or incident that prompted the concern.
    1. In most cases, an employee who experiences a conflict should first discuss the matter with the individual with whom they are having conflict.
    2. If a concern has not been resolved through Step 1, the employee may request a meeting with their supervisor to discuss the concern.
    3. If the concern has not been resolved through Step 2, the employee may request a meeting with their supervisor and the supervisor of the individual(s) involved.
  6. Reporting and Resolving Complaints.
    1. An employee who has attempted to resolve a complaint using the concerns process outlined above and who is not satisfied with the results may request a hearing before a College Hearing Panel by submitting a Request for Complaint Review to the Human Resources Office within 10 working days after completing the concern process.
    2. An employee seeking review of their complaint directly before a College Hearing Panel has 10 working days from the date of the management decision or action that they are protesting to submit the request for review in writing to the Human Resources Office.
    3. The Human Resources Office will screen the request to determine if it is eligible for review.
    4. If it is eligible, the Human Resources Office will convene a College Hearing Panel.
    5. The College Hearing Panel will provide a written recommendation for resolution to the President.
    6. The President has discretion, with cause, to accept, modify or reject, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the College Hearing Panel after meeting with them.
    7. The President will issue a final decision in writing to the affected parties within five working days of receiving the College Hearing Panel recommendation.
    8. The President’s decision is final and binding upon the parties, unless the concern or complaint is with the President, in which case the matter will be resolved by the Governing Board.
  7. Resolution through Mediation:
    1. If an employee is not able to informally resolve a dispute with the assistance of the appropriate supervisor, within five working days of the meeting with the supervisor, they may request mediation of the concern by submitting a written request to the Human Resources Office.
    2. The Human Resources Office shall schedule a mediation session within 30 calendar days of the request being received.
    3. The Human Resources Office will designate a mediator drawn from a list of mediators maintained by the College, which may include Human Resources Office employees.
    4. The College is responsible for convening the mediation and retaining the services of the mediator, including paying the costs, if any, associated with the mediation.
    5. At the discretion of the mediator, the mediator may request that the parties prepare a written statement prior to the mediation or may request other documentation from the College that pertains to the dispute.
    6. The mediator will not prescribe a solution to the parties. Instead, they will assist the parties in designing their own solutions and will facilitate a process in which the parties will be responsible for the outcome of the mediation.
    7. If no solution is reached during the mediation session, the matter is closed unless the subject of the concern constitutes a complaint that may be reviewed as a complaint under this policy.
    8. If several employees share a concern that arises out of the same incident, the Human Resources Office may allow the employees to seek joint resolution of the concern or complaint.
    9. The Human Resources Office will maintain a record of all College Hearing Panel recommendations and the President’s final decisions in a manner consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the College.
    10. Employees may not use this policy to report a violation of College policy that does not directly affect them. Such situations should be reported to the Human Resources Office or to the employee’s immediate supervisor.

Statement of Accountability and Responsibility

The President, through the Vice President for Strategy and Organizational Effectiveness, and Chief Human Resources Officer and the Human Resources Office, shall be responsible for enforcing employee concerns and complaints policies and procedures. The Human Resources Office shall work with the different departments and offices to comply with this policy and to develop procedures that will enforce this policy regarding awareness, prevention and remediation.


Policy 4-2 Employee Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action


SFCC Governing Board approved: 8/23/07
Revised and SFCC Governing Board approved: 1/25/17

Associated Procedures