Level One: Concerns
- There are three steps in the SFCC Employee Concern process:
- Informal discussion between the parties involved,
- Facilitated discussion with the supervisor, and
- Except for those issues reserved as exclusive rights and responsibilities in Policy 4-3, an employee may submit an employee concern to resolve any issue directly involving them and under the immediate control of SFCC management.
- A person who seeks to resolve a concern using this procedure should make every reasonable effort to begin the process within five working days from the time when the person becomes aware of, or should have reasonably become aware of, the decision or action or incident that prompted the concern. The longer the wait, the more difficult it can become to resolve a concern informally. Under extraordinary circumstances, the Office of Human Resources may grant an extension to enable the person to resolve a concern if the person seeking the extension has a legitimate reason for the delay such as absence from the workplace, illness, or other extenuating circumstances, and it is in the best interests of the College to enable resolution using this process.
Step One: Informal Discussion
- In most cases, an employee who experiences a conflict should first discuss the matter with the individual with whom they are having conflict. Employees are encouraged to use good faith and have an open mind in their informal discussions to ensure their workplace relationship is as productive and amicable as possible.
- In a situation where an employee is unsure of how to approach the other individual(s) with their concern, or is uncomfortable doing so, they are encouraged to consult with the Office of Human Resources, their immediate supervisor, or in the case of a conflict with the immediate supervisor, with that person’s supervisor. Supervisors are responsible for assisting an employee in resolving a concern in an appropriate manner.
Step Two: Facilitated Discussion with Supervisor
- If a concern has not been resolved through Step One, the employee may request a meeting with their supervisor to discuss the concern. If an employee has a concern that they wish to raise in this manner, they must use every effort to request this meeting in writing within five working days from the date of the last effort at informal discussion.
- The supervisor shall arrange a meeting within five working days of the request and will seek to facilitate a constructive dialogue around the issue or between the employees involved in the dispute. If appropriate, the supervisor may include in the meeting others who may be involved in the matter. The supervisor will work to resolve the concern in a manner acceptable to all parties involved. The supervisor is welcome to contact the Office of Human Resources for coaching or assistance with the meeting.
- Since this meeting is expected to be informal, no written record will be maintained. However, if appropriate, the employee and the supervisor, and others as appropriate, may reach an agreement that they decide to put in writing. In this case, the supervisor and employee should retain a copy of the outcome. The College expects that most conflicts should be resolved at this stage and encourages all employees to use good faith efforts to resolve disputes.
Step Three: Mediation
- If an employee is not able to informally resolve their dispute with the assistance of the appropriate supervisor in Step Two, within five working days of the meeting with the supervisor, they may request mediation of the concern by submitting a written request to the Office of Human Resource. The Office of Human Resources shall schedule a mediation session within 30 calendar days of having received the request.
- The Office of Human Resources will designate a mediator drawn from a list of mediators maintained by the College, which may include employees in the Office of Human Resource. 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. 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.
- The mediator will not prescribe a solution to the parties. Instead, the mediator 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. 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 under Level Two of these procedures.
Level Two: Complaints
- Employees may use Level Two, the complaint provision of this policy, if they are raising an issue about a specific management decision or management action which directly affects them and would constitute a violation of a College policy.
- Employees with a complaint, may use the steps outlined in Level One, but may also elect to seek review of their complaint directly before a College Hearing Pane. Review under Level Two of these procedures involves two steps:
- A hearing before a College Hearing Panel, and
- A final decision by the College President.
- An employee who attempted to resolve their complaint using Level One of these procedures but was not satisfied with the results may request a hearing before a College Hearing Panel by submitting a Request for Complaint Review to Human Resources within 10 working days after completing the concern process.
- 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 their Complaint Review Form. The form shall include a written statement outlining the complaint, the action taken thus far, and the remedy requested.
- The Office of Human Resources will screen the request to determine if it is eligible for review under this policy. If it is eligible, Human Resources will request that a College Hearing Panel be formed.
Step One: College Hearing Panel
- The Office of Human Resources shall provide the employee seeking a review of a complaint with a list of the members of the College Hearing Council within five working days of receipt of the employee’s request for formal review. The employee shall notify the Executive Director of Human Resources and Professional Development/EEO Officer, or their designee, in writing of their selection of one person from the College Hearing Council within five working days of receipt of the list.
- If the employee does not do so within five working days, the employee shall be deemed to have abandoned their request for review.
- The responding party selects another person from the College Hearing Council and so notifies the Executive Director of Human Resources and Professional Development/EEO Officer, or their designee, in writing within five working days of receipt of the employee’s selection.
- Once two members have been identified, these two select a third member from the pool, who serves as the Hearing Panel Chair.
- Either the employee or the responding party may object to a panel member selected on the basis of a conflict of interest, such as a current relationship, which might lead to the appearance of bias on the part of the panel member. Such objection shall be submitted to the Office of Human Resources in writing within five working days of the panel member’s selection.
- The Office of Human Resources shall evaluate the possible conflict of interest, make a decision whether the panel member shall serve, and so notify the parties.
- The Office of Human Resources shall coordinate convening the College Hearing Panel within 10 working days of the selection of the Hearing Panel Chair. In consultation with the other members of the Panel, the Panel chairperson will then set a date for the hearing within 20 working days of being convened by the Office of Human Resources. The Office of Human Resources will send a written notice to the employee, the responding party and others who may be appropriately involved in the hearing stating the date and time of the hearing.
- The employee and the responding party may submit a written statement to the panel prior to the hearing. The Chair shall conduct the hearing, during which the employee must demonstrate that the management decision or action in question occurred and that it constituted a violation of College policy. The parties will represent themselves at the hearing.
- Because this is an informal administrative hearing, attorneys or other representatives (except for translators) are not authorized to attend. The employee and responding party will be given the opportunity to make an opening statement to summarize their concern, present their side of the story and to state the remedy being sought. The College Hearing Panel can ask questions of the parties and require other employees with information relevant to the issue to attend the hearing and answer questions. The employee and the responding supervisor may question each other. The College Hearing Panel may also set time limits.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the College Hearing Panel will prepare a written report to the President within 10 working days of the hearing, summarizing its factual findings and including its general recommendation.
Step Two: President’s Final Decision
- The President in their sole discretion may accept, modify or reject, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Hearing Panel. The President will issue a final decision in writing to the affected parties within five working days of receiving the College Hearing Panel report. The President’s decision is final and binding upon the parties.
- Retaliation Prohibited. Employees are encouraged to use this process to resolve disputes. The College strictly prohibits retaliation against an employee using this policy to raise concerns or 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.
- Records. The Office of Human Resources will maintain a record of the College Hearing Panel Report and the President’s final decision, and will manage the records in a manner consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the College.
- Multiple Parties. If several employees share a concern that arises out of the same incident, the Office of Human Resources may, at its discretion, allow the employees to seek joint resolution of the concern or complaint.
- Forms. Forms are available from the Office of Human Resources for an employee seeking review of their concern or complaint.
Contact: Yash Morimoto, Ph.D., Vice President for Strategy and Organizational Effectiveness, firstname.lastname@example.org, 505-428-1765.