Policy Manual

Staff Grievance Procedure


Regular and effective communication between supervisors and staff members reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding and conflict. The University expects and encourages supervisors and staff members to communicate openly and regularly so that the interests of the staff and the University are best served. To support this commitment, the University has a Workplace Issue Resolution Program (WIRP) and this Grievance Procedure. Resource Offices at the University such as the Division of Human Resources/Staff and Labor Relations, Office of the Ombuds, Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, the African American Resource Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center, and the Penn Women's Center will assist staff members in resolving issues or concerns using the WIRP or Grievance Procedure. Staff members who have concerns about the administration of University or departmental policy, are encouraged to try to resolve them by working with their department head or one of the Resource Offices.

The Staff Grievance Procedure is designed to provide a fair and equitable resolution for concerns related to terms or conditions of employment that are not resolved to the staff member's satisfaction through the WIRP or where the dispute may not be addressed through the WIRP. Retaliation against a staff member for utilizing this Grievance Procedure violates University policy and will result in appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Any staff member who believes that s/he has been retaliated against or treated unfairly for utilizing the Grievance Procedure should contact the Division of Human Resources/Staff and Labor Relations or another University Resource Office.


A grievance is defined as an unresolved issue concerning the application of University policy, practice, or procedure. This includes disciplinary action, involuntary termination, allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, or veteran status.

Complaints regarding performance appraisals, flexible work options decisions, reductions in the size of the workforce, restructuring, change in reporting line and/or the designation of individuals for redeployment or separation from a unit are not matters subject to a grievance under this policy.

Complaints regarding compensation and classification are only grievable if a violation of federal, state or local equal opportunity or labor laws is alleged. Other complaints of this nature are handled administratively. Questions regarding the administrative review process should be directed to the Division of Human Resources/Compensation.


All regular University staff members (including regular limited service staff members) who have completed their introductory period are eligible to utilize this process to resolve issues arising from their employment. Faculty, ungraded administrators, university officers, health system clinicians, non-university employees employed by the University of Pennsylvania Health System and unionized employees have separate procedures and are not eligible to file grievances under this procedure. Residents, occasional or temporary workers are not eligible to file a grievance under this procedure.


The Division of Human Resources/Staff and Labor Relations administers the Staff Grievance Procedure. In grievances in which unlawful discrimination is alleged, the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs assists in the administration of the procedure. All time frames and other procedural requirements must be adhered to unless the Division of Human Resources grants an extension or exemption. Extensions will only be granted for compelling reasons. If the grievant fails to respond within specified time frames (including any approved extensions) the grievance may be dismissed. If the respondent fails to respond within specified time frames (including any approved extensions) he/she may be subject to disciplinary action.

Both the grievant and respondent may be assisted throughout this process by an employee representative. These representatives must be regular or retired faculty or staff members. The head of the responding department must approve all employee representatives for respondents.

Staff members must initiate action within the following time frames in order to reserve the right to request a panel hearing under the Staff Grievance Procedure:

  • If not utilizing the WIRP first: The grievant must submit a completed grievance form within thirty (30) working days of the date of the event giving rise to the grievance.
  • If utilizing the WIRP first: The staff member must initiate action under the WIRP within thirty (30) working days of the date of the event giving rise to the grievance. If no resolution is reached through the WIRP, the staff member then has ten (10) working days from the final attempt to resolve the issue through the WIRP to submit a completed grievance form.
  • If terminated from employment: The grievant has ten (10) working days from notice of termination of employment to submit a grievance form.

The completed grievance form must be submitted to the Division of Human Resources/Staff and Labor Relations at 600 Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6228.

Every effort will be made to hold the hearing within thirty (30) working days. The Panel must submit recommendations for resolution in writing to the President or designee within five (5) working days of the completion of the hearing. The President or designee will notify the grievant and respondent of the final decision in writing within ten (10) working days of receipt of the recommendations from the panel.

Note: A Grievance Procedure Manual describing the process in detail is available from any of the University Resource Offices or by clicking here.

Policy Number: 620
Effective Date: 05/09/2006
Supersedes Policy Number(s): 620 (01/12/1999), 01/01/2000
Applicability: All Regular Staff Members
Cross-reference: Policy 001, Policy 201

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