Cape Fear Community College provides a fair, reasonable, and readily accessible process for employees to resolve general workplace grievances and complaints as they arise.
A grievance is a formal process whereby an employee alleges a violation, inequitable application, or misinterpretation of a specific College rule, regulation, policy, or procedure pertaining to the employment relationship between the employee and the College that cannot be resolved through the conflict resolution avenues. These procedures shall apply to concerns by employees alleging that a work-related problem or condition is unfair, inequitable, or a hindrance to the effective performance of the employee’s job.
Prior to submitting a formal complaint or grievance, employees are encouraged to openly and directly communicate with their immediate supervisor in an attempt to address and resolve issues concerns, or complaints related to their employment as they arise. The College strives to identify and resolve issues at the supervisory level and keep the resolution process as informal and confidential as possible. Supervisors are given the courtesy of being informed of reported employee issues, concerns, or complaints in order to work towards a mutually agreeable resolution decision. Employees utilizing the Informal Complaint and Formal Grievance Resolution Procedures can do so without fear of reprisal or retaliation affecting the terms and/or conditions of their employment.
Step 1: Informal Complaint Resolution Procedure
The Informal Complaint Resolution Procedure provides an opportunity for employees to resolve a complaint through their immediate supervisor with optional Human Resources involvement. This procedure has been determined to be the most effective and common avenue for resolving employee complaints. Employees are encouraged to make every effort possible to utilize this informal approach to resolve complaints through communication with their immediate supervisor. If the employee complaint involves the employee’s immediate supervisor, the employee may begin with Step 2: Formal Complaint Resolution Procedure.
The Informal Complaint Resolution Procedures are as follows:
• Employees may report a complaint for resolution by scheduling a meeting with their supervisor.
• Supervisors will make every effort to resolve employee complaints fairly and promptly, generally within five (5) work days of when the employee complaint is presented by the employee.
• Human Resources involvement can be requested by the employee or the supervisor in order to provide mediation and assist in the facilitation of the resolution decision.
• If the resolution determination at Step 1 is mutually amicable, the employee’s complaint will be considered settled.
• In the event the employee complaint is not resolved, the employee may escalate their reported complaint by utilizing the Formal Complaint Resolution Procedure (Step 2).
Step 2: Formal Complaint Resolution Procedure
In the event the Informal Complaint Resolution Procedure does not resolve the complaint, an employee may utilize the Formal Complaint Resolution Procedure. The Formal Complaint Resolution Procedure provides an opportunity for employees to resolve their complaint through a next-level Supervisor (their supervisor’s manager). Employees may also begin at the Formal
Complaint Resolution Procedure if they are not comfortable sharing the complaint with their immediate supervisor. The Formal Complaint Resolution Procedure requires mandatory Human Resources involvement. Human Resources will determine whom to include based on departmental and supervisory structure. The Formal Complaint Resolution Procedures are as follows:
• Employees may report a complaint for resolution by submitting a written complaint to their supervisor’s manager or by contacting Human Resources.
• The employee’s written complaint must be submitted within five (5) work days following the Informal Complaint Resolution decision is made known to the employee. If the employee fails to submit a written complaint within the specified timeframe, the matter will be considered settled.
• The employee’s written and signed statement can be either hand-delivered or sent via College email to the next-level supervisor and must cite the specific policy, procedure, or practice alleged to have been violated, misinterpreted, or inequitably applied.
• After considering the nature of the complaint and reviewing documentation, Human Resources will serve as a mediator to work towards a resolution decision by conducting a thorough investigation of details and facts. This investigation may include discussions with the employee, supervision, and witnesses.
• Supervisors, in conjunction with Human Resources, will make every effort to resolve employee complaints fairly and promptly, generally within two (2) weeks from when the employee’s written complaint is presented.
• If the resolution determination at Step 2 is mutually amicable, the employee’s complaint will be considered settled.
• In the event the employee complaint is not resolved, the employee may escalate their reported complaint by utilizing the Formal Grievance Resolution Procedure (Step 3).
Step 3: Formal Grievance Resolution Procedure
The Formal Grievance Resolution Procedure is conducted by the Program Director, Department Chair, Dean, Associate Dean, Executive Director, Chief of Staff, Associate Vice President, or Vice President of the employee’s department, with mandatory Human Resources involvement. Human Resources will determine whom to include based on departmental and supervisory structure.
The Formal Grievance Resolution Procedures are as follows:
• Employees dissatisfied with the outcome of the Formal Complaint Resolution decision may submit a written grievance for review by the Program Director, Department Chair, Dean, Associate Dean, Executive Director, Chief of Staff, Associate Vice President, or Vice President of their assigned department.
• If the resolution determination at Step 3 is mutually amicable, the employee’s complaint will be considered settled.
Final Grievance Resolution and Appellate Procedure
In rare instances, when an employee’s complaint or grievance is not resolved, an appeals hearing may be requested. The appeals hearing is scheduled before an Appeals Committee appointed by the President of the College. The President’s resolution decision following the appeals hearing is binding and final. The Final Grievance Resolution and Appellate Procedure shall not apply to concerns arising out of a termination as a result of a reduction in force, non-reappointments, or dismissal. Employees should contact Human Resources for written guidance and step-by-step instructions on how to initiate the Final Grievance Resolution and Appellate Procedure.
• The employee must submit a written request (either hand delivered or sent via College email) to the President of the College (or designee) to request an appeals hearing. This written grievance resolution request must be received within five (5) work days following receipt of a prior resolution decision or disciplinary action. If a written grievance resolution request is not submitted within the specified timeframe, the matter of the grievance will be considered settled.
• The President will appoint an Appeals Committee, which will have authority to conduct the appeals hearing and recommend a resolution to the President. The Appeals Committee will be comprised of five (5) panel members designated by the President. Only full-time employees of the College can be appointed as panel members. A written list of the chosen panel members will be provided to the employee requesting the appeals hearing, generally within ten (10) work days following the President’s receipt of the employee’s written grievance resolution request.
• The employee may object to any one (1) Appeals Committee panel member by providing the President with a written request for the panel member’s removal within three (3) work days of receiving the list of panel members. If such an objection is made within the allotted timeframe, one (1) replacement panel member will be designated by the President.
• The appeals hearing will be conducted within thirty (30) days from the final list of Appeals Committee panel members being provided to the employee. All parties involved may present supporting evidence. The employee is entitled to invite one (1) witness that is not an attorney to the hearing. The appeals hearing is closed to the public. Any request for postponement of an appeals hearing must be submitted in writing to the President at least five (5) work days prior to the scheduled hearing.
• Following the appeals hearing, the Appeals Committee will consider the evidence presented, and by majority vote, will identify resolution recommendations. A written report containing the Appeals Committee resolution recommendations will be submitted to the President, generally within ten (10) work days following the appeals hearing. The Appeals Committee report is advisory in nature and will not bind the President’s final decision.
• Upon receipt of the Appeals Committee written report, the President will review the Appeals Committee recommendations and make a final and binding decision on the matter. The President will inform the employee in writing of the final resolution determination, generally within ten (10) work days following receipt of the Appeals Committee’s written report.
• The resolution decision of the President is binding and final and the employee grievance is considered settled.