Dispute Resolution: Complaints and Grievances

Policies and Procedures Manual Section 10

Prohibited discrimination, sexual harassment and sexism complaints

The Office of Institutional Equity administers Western Michigan University policies regarding prohibited discrimination, sexual harassment and sexism. All complaints regarding these issues are to be directed to institutional equity.

Office of the Ombudsman

Please see University Ombudsman in the employee handbook.

University policy on grievances

University policy assures employees of their right to file a grievance, via a formally established procedure. The University acknowledges the right of grievance and honors it without any reprisal or censure directed at the employee.


The University recognizes that in any work situation some disagreements will occur and has established a grievance procedure to assist with resolution. General employment practice, policy, and procedure grievances should be directed to and are administered by Human Resources. This grievance procedure applies to all University non-bargaining unit employees and student employees.


  1. Bargaining unit employees should follow the grievance procedures provided in their bargaining unit agreement.
  2. Non-bargaining unit employees. The following grievance procedure is available to all non-bargaining unit employees, including student employees. Emphasis is placed on settling grievances at the lowest administrative level possible.
    1. A complaint should occur before the formal grievance is filed. A complaint is any oral, unwritten accusation, allegation, or charge against the University regarding the employee's employment conditions. It should be a timely expression of a problem. Complaints must be expressed and discussed with the employee's immediate supervisor before any grievance is filed. If the complaint cannot be resolved, a grievance may be filed.
    2. A grievance is defined as a formal written allegation by an employee that there has been a violation, misinterpretation, misapplication, discriminatory application, or unreasonable application of an official University policy, procedure, rule, or regulation regarding the employee's employment conditions.
      1. Step one—departmental level. A formal grievance must be filed on an official University grievance form and signed by the employee involved. The grievance must:
        • Be timely.
        • State all the facts in the case.
        • State when the incident(s) being grieved occurred.
        • Specify the policy, procedure, rule, or regulation involved.
        Time limit. The completed formal grievance must be filed with Human Resources no later than 30 calendar days after the event(s) being grieved occurred. Time limits may be extended by Human Resources upon written request.

        Representation. Once a formal grievance has been filed, the employee, if he/she wishes, may have another employee present as a representative at any meeting where the grievance is discussed with the grievant, provided notice is given to the management representative at least 24 hours before the meeting. If the employee wishes to have a representative who is not a University employee, he/she must notify Human Resources in writing at the time the grievance or appeal is filed. The University may choose to have representation at any grievance meeting in addition to the representatives designated in this grievance procedure, and shall advise the grievant in advance of any grievance meeting if additional University representatives will be in attendance.

        Response. After receiving the grievance, Human Resources will forward the grievance to the step-one departmental representative, who will be the unit head or other person designated by the appropriate vice president to respond to the grievance. The step-one departmental representative must provide a written answer within seven calendar days after receiving the formal grievance.
      2. Step two—appeal to the vice presidential level. If the grievance is not resolved at step one, the employee may appeal to the appropriate vice president within seven calendar days after receiving the step-one departmental representative's written answer. The employee must file the appeal to Human Resources using an official University appeal form. Human Resources will, in turn, notify the step-one departmental representative and the vice president of the employee's appeal.

        The vice president or his/her designee will then arrange a meeting with the grievant, his/her representative (if requested), a mid-level management representative, and any other individuals who may help resolve the grievance. This meeting must be held within 14 calendar days after the administrator hearing the appeal receives the appeal from Human Resources. Within seven calendar days after this meeting, the administrator hearing the appeal will communicate an answer in writing to the involved parties.
      3. Step threeappeal to the presidential level. If the grievance has not been resolved at step two, it may be appealed to the University president. Human Resources must receive the appeal within seven calendar days after the grievant receives the written step-two answer. The president, at his/her discretion, will handle the grievance personally or will designate a representative to conduct a hearing or investigation of the grievance, report findings, and recommend a decision. The president will make the final grievance decision and communicate it to the appropriate parties.

<back   next>