Printed on: 07/10/2020. Please go to http://policy.umn.edu for the most current version of the Policy or related document.
University of Minnisota  Administrative Policy

Conflict Resolution for Faculty, P&A, Civil Service, and Student Workers

Responsible University Officer(s):
  • Vice President, Office for Equity and Diversity
Policy Owner(s):
  • Conflict Resolution Director
Policy contact(s):
  • Tamar Gronvall
Date Revised:
May 5, 2020
Effective Date:
Mar 24, 2005

Policy Statement

Faculty, P&A, Civil Service, and student workers may access the University's carefully coordinated network of options for the good faith review and resolution of workplace conflicts. These options include:

  • informal services to encourage prompt resolution of disputes, to include consultation, problem solving, facilitated discussion, and mediation; and/or
  • a formal petition process reserved for conflicts not resolved through informal efforts, including a peer hearing, a final University decision by the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the opportunity to elect binding outside arbitration, or where applicable, appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Scope

The conflict resolution process applies to employment-related conflicts of non-labor represented faculty, academic professional and administrative (P&A) staff, civil service staff, and student workers, including graduate student teaching and research assistants. In some circumstances, it applies to faculty emeriti and to recently terminated employees. This conflict resolution policy does not apply to labor-represented faculty and staff because their workplace concerns are governed by applicable collective bargaining agreements. 

Arbitrations

The Office of Conflict Resolution (OCR)maintains procedures that promote the fair, efficient, and cost-effective arbitration of employment conflicts at the election of the employee. The amount of, and responsibility to pay, arbitrator fees will depend on the source of the arbitrator chosen by the employee.

  • If the employee selects an arbitrator from the National Academy of Arbitrators, the employee and the University will share equally in paying the entire arbitrator fees.
  • If the employee selects an arbitrator from a roster maintained by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, the arbitrator will be requested to cap their total fees at $10,000, unless fees in excess of that amount are approved by the Vice President for Equity and Diversity upon a showing of good cause by the arbitrator. The employee and University will share equally the arbitrator fees up to $7,000. The University will pay the arbitrator fees over $7,000.

Relief Available

When warranted, resolution of conflicts under this policy may include corrective action for the benefit of the employee, including reinstatement of back pay and restoration of benefits actually lost. Relief does not include attorneys' fees, damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress, or punitive damages. Resolution may not direct disciplinary action against an employee.

Retaliation

No member of the University community may retaliate against an individual because of the individual’s good faith participation in:

  • reporting or otherwise expressing opposition to, suspected or alleged misconduct;
  • participating in any process designed to review or investigate suspected or alleged misconduct or non-compliance with applicable policies, rules, and laws; or
  • accessing OCR services.

A causal relationship between the good faith participation in one of these activities and an adverse action is needed to demonstrate that retaliation has occurred.

Reporting Retaliation Concerns

Individuals who believe that retaliation is occurring or has occurred, as a result of their good faith participation in one of the above referenced activities, should follow the reporting options available to them in the Administrative Policy: Reporting Suspected Misconduct.

Reports of retaliation will be reviewed and investigated in the same manner in which other concerns of misconduct are handled. Any University member who engages in retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion.

Intentionally False Reports/Information

Individuals who, knowingly or intentionally, file a false report or provide false or misleading information in connection with an investigation may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment, or expulsion.

Exclusions

Employees who are represented by a labor organization are excluded from services. Labor-represented employees may pursue their concerns through the process established in their collective bargaining agreements.

Persons who are not employed by the University, even if their work is physically located at the University, such as employees of University of Minnesota Physicians, are not eligible for these services. Volunteers, fellows, or other individuals who work with the University, but are not paid by the University, are generally not eligible for services.

Reason for Policy

This administrative policy implements Board of Regents Policy: Conflict Resolution Process for Employees. This framework for resolution of workplace conflicts promotes early resolution of workplace conflicts and promotes the engagement of valued University faculty, P&A, Civil Service, and student employees.

Procedures

Forms/Instructions

Appendices

Frequently Asked Questions

Contacts

SubjectContactPhoneEmail
Primary Contact(s) Tamar Gronvall 612-624-0884 gronvall@umn.edu
Student Conflict Resolution Center (academic conflicts) Jan Morse
Michael Huyen
612-624-7272 sos@umn.edu
UReport
(an anonymous reporting service for suspected violations of laws and University policies)
UReport 1-866-294-8680
Director, Human Resources, Crookston Jonathon Fuller 218-281-8345 ljumc@umn.edu
Director, Human Resources, Duluth Mark Yuran 218-726-6326 myuran@d.umn.edu
Director, Human Resources, Morris Sarah Mattson 320-589-6024 mattsosi@morris.umn.edu
Director, Human Resources, Rochester Virginia Wright-Peterson 507-258-8009 umrhr@r.umn.edu

Definitions

Adverse Action
Any action that might deter a reasonable person from engaging in reporting suspected or alleged misconduct, expressing opposition to alleged misconduct, participating in an investigation related to a misconduct allegation, or accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution services. Examples of adverse action include, but are not limited to: impeding the individual’s academic advancement; departing from any customary academic or employment practice regarding the individual; firing, refusing to hire, or refusing to promote the individual; transferring or assigning the individual to a lesser position in terms of wages, hours, job classification, job security, employment or academic status; and threatening or marginalizing an individual. In some situations, retaliatory conduct may also include inappropriate disclosure of the identity of the individual who has made a complaint protected by this policy.
Attorney
A person with a J.D. law degree.
Conflict Resolution Advisory Committee
An advisory committee whose members are appointed by representative employee groups.
Employee
A person receiving a University of Minnesota paycheck.
Good Faith Participation
Reporting, or otherwise expressing opposition to, misconduct based on a reasonable belief that misconduct has occurred. Or, honestly participating in an investigation of misconduct or accessing conflict resolution services.
Investigation
The steps taken to analyze all relevant information regarding suspected or alleged misconduct and then determine whether sufficient evidence exists to find that misconduct occurred.
Party
A petitioner or respondent.
Petition
A written complaint alleging a violation of a University rule, regulation, policy, or practice pertaining to employment.
Petitioner
A University non-labor represented employee who files a petition.
Report in Good Faith
A report made by an individual who reasonably believes that misconduct has occurred and reports the incident.
Respondent
The person appointed by the senior administrator to respond to the petition.
Retaliation
Taking an adverse action against an individual because of the individual’s good faith participation in reporting suspected or alleged misconduct, expressing opposition to alleged misconduct, participating in an investigation related to a misconduct allegation, or accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution services. (See also Adverse Action.) A causal relationship between good faith participation in reporting and an adverse action is needed to demonstrate that retaliation has occurred.
Rosters - Hearing Officer, Panelist, Advisor
  • The Hearing Officer Roster consists of individuals who are available to serve as hearing officers on peer hearing panels. The Office for Conflict Resolution appoints a hearing officer from the roster when a matter goes to a peer hearing. The hearing officer must be from the same employment category as the petitioner. Hearing officers are nominated by representative employee committees and are appointed by the vicepresident for Equity and Diversity for terms of up to three years.
  • The members of the Panel Roster are available to the petitioner to be panelists in a peer hearing or arbitration. They are appointed by representative employee committees and serve terms of up to three years.
  • The Advisor Roster is a list of individuals who have agreed to serve as advisors to employees during conflict resolution processes. They receive training about conflict resolution processes from Office for Conflict Resolution staff.
Senior Administrator
The president, chancellor, senior executive, vice president, or appropriate vice president for the unit in which the petitioner is employed.
Vice President for Equity and Diversity
The senior administrator of the unit in which the Office for Conflict Resolution resides.

Responsibilities

Conflict Resolution Advisory Committee
Advises the vice president for Equity and Diversity regarding the selection of the conflict resolution staff, its performance, and the operation of the conflict resolution program. It reviews the functioning of the program every five years and reports its findings and recommendations to the vicepresident for Equity and Diversity, president, and University Senate.
Director, Office for Conflict Resolution
Administers this policy and related procedures so that conflict resolution processes are accessible, competent, and fair. Provides informal and formal conflict resolution services. Offers educational programming about conflict resolution to University faculty and staff. Prepares an annual report on the work of the office.
Petitioner
A University non-labor-represented employee who files a written petition alleging a violation of University policy or practice and prepares and presents the issues to a peer panel.
President
Appoints a respondent and a panelist if a matter goes to arbitration. Appoints two administrative representatives to the Conflict Resolution Advisory Committee.
Respondent
Appointed by the Senior Administrator to respond to the petition.
Senior Administrator
Appoints a respondent to a petition and ensures that a written response to the petition is submitted. Appoints a panelist if the matter goes to a peer hearing.
Executive Vice President and Provost
Makes the final University decision on jurisdictional determinations and on petitions, following peer panel decisions.
Vice President for Equity and Diversity
Appoints the director of the Office for Conflict Resolution. Supervises the Office for Conflict Resolution in consultation with the Conflict Resolution Advisory Committee. Appoints hearing officers to the Hearing Office Roster after they are nominated by representative employee committees. Determines whether to approve payment of arbitrator fees exceeding the $10,000 cap.

Related Information

History

Amended:
May 2017 - Comprehensive Review.
  1. Updates the policy owner, contact, and unit title and names of contacts.
  2. Minor edits to clarify and simplify language.
  3. Provides additional FAQs to improve guidance.
  4. Updates and increases the stated arbitration fees.
Amended:
August 2017 - Minor Revision. The section on Retaliation has been updated to be consistent with core language in Administrative Policy: Retaliation.
Amended:
February 2011 - Comprehensive Review.  The following revisions were made to enhance efficiency and fair process:
  1. A prohibition on retaliation was added to Board of Regents Policy: Conflict Resolution Process for Employees.
  2. The Conflict Resolution Policy was converted to the new University-wide format for administrative policies.
  3. Existing administrative procedures were revised to encourage the use of Minnesota arbitrators and streamline the arbitration process.
  4. An estimated Minnesota arbitrator fee of $3,500 (shared equally by the University and the employee) was established. A process for University payment of arbitration fees exceeding $3,500 was added.
Effective:
February 11, 2005 – Board of Regents Policy: Conflict Resolution Process for Employees superseded Board of Regents Policy: Grievance Process. The Board of Regents policy and administrative procedures were revised to include informal ombuds services and to substitute "petition" and "conflict resolution" language for "grievance" language.
Amended:
July 12, 2002 – Board of Regents Policy: Grievance Process was adopted. It superseded the Grievance Procedure dated April 16, 1993. Revisions included expanding the scope to include faculty emeriti and revising the definition of "attorney" to include persons with J.D. degrees, who may not be licensed to practice law.
Adopted:
1993 – A University-wide Grievance Procedure for non-bargaining unit University employees was adopted.

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