Workplace Issue Resolution Program
The Workplace Issue Resolution Program provides an opportunity to resolve work-related issues with your manager or colleagues. It helps you work through a problem at an early stage and address misunderstandings that can cause a communication breakdown.
The goals of this program are to ensure an open line of communication and to promote flexible, creative solutions that are agreeable to everyone involved in a disagreement. Use the Workplace Issue Resolution Program to:
- Discuss concerns about difficulties you experience with your supervisor or colleagues.
- Address specific actions your supervisor has taken which affect the terms or conditions of your employment.
Open Communication Philosophy
Open dialogue between you and the management in your school or center is essential. Open Communication is the quickest way to raise your issues, by going directly to your supervisor or a higher level of supervision. Your supervisor may be closest to the situation and in a position that could be helpful in working toward a solution; ask to talk over your problems with him/her.
If you believe your supervisor can’t give appropriate consideration to your issues, or you have concerns about retaliation, contact Human Resources or a University Resource Office for guidance about how to proceed.
If you’re dissatisfied with your immediate supervisor’s response, or need to talk to someone other than your supervisor, take your problem to the next higher level of supervision. You’re encouraged to speak with the administration and management in your school or center, since that’s often the most direct way of addressing matters.
Conference/Facilitated Meetings with University Resources
If you’re uncertain about how to approach the management in your area, or if you’ve approached your supervisor or another colleague and haven’t reached a satisfactory outcome, you’re encouraged to seek support from the Division of Human Resources, Staff and Labor Relations; African American Resource Center; or the Office of the Ombudsman. A trained professional from any of these offices can help you address and resolve issues by having discussions with your supervisor, co-worker, or other departmental manager or by facilitating a meeting to help resolve the issues you raise. If the issue involves a violation of federal, state, or local harassment or discrimination laws, it will be investigated and/or referred to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs.
You may also contact the Staff and Labor Relations Department for clarification and interpretation of policies and procedures which may apply to the issues you’re raising.
Mediation is a private and confidential process for resolving conflict. With the help of a neutral third party, those in conflict learn to recognize and better understand each other’s perspectives, as well as develop communication skills to facilitate future discussions.
A mediator helps you find flexible and creative solutions to workplace problems. All agreements are voluntary, and all other options for settlement are still open to you if mediation doesn’t result in a satisfactory outcome.
Mediation can be initiated by a request or recommendation from anyone involved in a workplace issue—including you, your supervisor or a fellow co-worker—or parties may be referred to mediation by Human Resources or a University Resource Office.
Human Resources chooses two trained volunteer mediators to co-mediate your dispute. As neutral facilitators, they won’t render any final or binding decision. Instead, you and the other concerned parties work towards a mutually acceptable agreement.
Human Resources provides the mediators with the basic information needed to conduct the mediation, but they won’t have prior in-depth knowledge or facts about the issues. None of the involved parties have the opportunity to speak to them before the first meeting. This keeps the mediators unbiased and open-minded as they approach the process. In cases where more than one meeting is necessary, it may be appropriate for the mediators and the participants to have some discussion between sessions.
When you meet with the mediators, they’ll explain their roles and the structure of the process. They’ll ensure that you and the other participants have an opportunity to convey your issues without interruption. Once everyone has stated their issues, the group will discuss them and respond to each other’s concerns in order to come to a mutually acceptable agreement.
Throughout the process, the mediators guide the conversation and help explore resolution options. They make sure that each concerned party understands and is comfortable with proposed solutions. Where applicable, the mediators will check with Human Resources to make sure that all proposed solutions are legal and in compliance with University policies.
If you reach a mutually acceptable agreement on any or all of the issues, the mediators will assist in developing a written agreement which will be signed by all participants in the process. You, the other parties, and Human Resources each receive a copy of the mediated agreement. All notes other than the written agreement are destroyed by the mediator as soon as the session ends. Mediation sessions are not taped.
See the Workplace Issue Mediation FAQ for more information about the mediation process.
You may not be retaliated against for utilizing the Workplace Issue Resolution Program. The University considers any such action a serious offense and a violation of University policy. Violators are subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination. If you feel you’ve been retaliated against, you should contact Human Resources or the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs.
Allegations of Illegal Discrimination
Allegations of illegal discrimination should be referred to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs. In cases where an allegation of unlawful discrimination is not the sole issue but needs to be resolved, you may decide to try mediation first and then contact the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, pending the outcome of the mediation. If you contact the Office first and there is no finding of illegal discrimination, the parties may then agree to use mediation to address any underlying issues.
Issues Ineligible for the Workplace Issue Resolution Program
These issues are not subject to the Workplace Issue Resolution Program:
- Determination of base salary or salary increases
- Claims of salary inequities, job grading, and classifications
- Selection for jobs or reassignments
- Performance appraisals
- Decisions resulting in restructuring or position discontinuations
Staff members whose employment with the University is terminated may raise concerns about the termination through the Staff Grievance Procedure within ten (10) working days of the date of termination. Contact Human Resources at 215-898-6093 to initiate the process.