Conflict Resolution for Faculty, P&A, Civil Service, and Student Workers
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the relationship between the Office for Conflict Resolution (OCR) and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
OCR provides confidential problem solving consultations, facilitated dialogues, mediations and oversees the formal grievance process. EAP provides confidential professional counseling and referral services to address any personal, mental health or work concern, that may affect wellbeing. OCR may refer eligible employees to EAP services depending on the needs of the employee. An employee may both consult with OCR and utilize EAP services at the same time.
- Is my consultation with the Office for Conflict Resolution confidential?
In general, informal assistance consultations with OCR are confidential except where a visitor reports the threat of serious physical harm to themselves or others. Except for threats of serious physical harm, OCR is not an official notice or reporting office for claims of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, retaliaton, discrimination, nepotism or other protected conduct. Rather OCR provides assistance and referrals to visitors who desire to make an official report with the correct University reporting and investigative authority such as the Office of Employment and Equal Opportunity Office (EOAA) or U Report.
- What is the relationship between the Office for Conflict Resolution (OCR) and the Student Conflict Resolution Center (SCRC)?
OCR handles employment-related issues of faculty, staff, and student workers, SCRC handles non-employment-related issues, principally affecting students.
- In OCR’s formal grievance process, are there claims that cannot be the basis for a petition?
Yes, OCR’s policy does not permit certain claims in the formal process. For example, an alleged violation of Board of Regents Policy: Code of Conduct cannot be the basis for a petition. Similarly, issues of academic misconduct are also not within the scope of the policy. But discipline imposed on an eligible employee as the result of an academic misconduct proceeding may be the subject of a petition. Likewise, certain remedies are not available in the formal process. For example a petitioner cannot request as a remedy, that a particular employee be disciplined or terminated.
- About how long does it take to get a final University decision on a petition?
The formal process generally takes four to eight months. See Appendix: Timeline for the Petition Process.
- Are there fees for faculty, staff, or student employees who use this process?
Fees are incurred only if the petitioner elects to proceed to arbitration following the final decision of the executive vice president and provost.
- How are arbitrators chosen?
There are two sources for arbitrators:
- The Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) maintains a roster of eligible arbitrators who meet the BMS criteria for arbitrators and are not current University employees. From that roster, the BMS selects five names randomly and forwards those names to the Office for Conflict Resolution along with a brief resume and fee schedule for each arbitrator. This information is forwarded to the petitioner and the respondent. They alternate in striking names from the list until a single arbitrator's name remains.
- Regular faculty and P&A employees may request a randomly selected list of five arbitrators from the National Academy of Arbitrators holding either tenured faculty rank or emeritus status in a U.S. institution outside the state of Minnesota. The petitioner and respondent alternate in striking names as outlined above.
- If the employee chooses an arbitrator from the BMS list, what will the employee’s and the University’s costs be?
BMS reports that arbitrator costs averaged $6,000 to $10,000 per case in 2019. The employee and the University unit will each be responsible for half of the arbitrator's fee, up to $7,000 (in other words, up to $3,500 each). The University will be responsible for the entire fee between $7,000 and $10,000. Upon good cause shown by the arbitrator, the vice president for Equity and Diversity may approve fees in excess of $10,000, and the University will be responsible for those fees, but it is expected that all arbitrations by a BMS arbitrator can be conducted for under $10,000.
- Who pays the University's costs of arbitration?
These costs are the responsibility of the collegiate or administrative unit that took the action being challenged.
- If the employee chooses an arbitrator from the National Academy of Arbitrators, what will the costs be? Is there a maximum fee the employee or the University will be charged?
- Why is there a cost difference between arbitrators drawn from the National Academy of Arbitrators and arbitrators drawn from the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services?
As a general rule, fees for arbitrators from the National Academy of Arbitrators are higher than for arbitrators drawn from the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services.
Arbitrators from the National Academy of Arbitrators charge higher daily rates than BMS arbitrators. They incur travel expenses and usually charge for their travel time. Scheduling is difficult because they have teaching responsibilities and heavy demand for their services. If an arbitration is not completed in a day, it may take weeks, and additional costs, to schedule a second day of hearing.
BMS arbitrators are principally based in Minnesota. Their daily fee rates are lower because they are set by the local market, rather than a national market. They must have significant arbitration experience and a respected record of decisions to be listed on the BMS roster. Since an arbitration by a BMS arbitrator can be conducted without travel expenses and without gaps in scheduling, lower-cost arbitrations are available to employees from BMS arbitrators.
The employee will be responsible for half of the arbitrator's fees, and the University will be responsible for the other half. There is no cap on the arbitrator's fee, and therefore no cap on what the unit or the employee will be charged. The cost will depend on the arbitrator's rate, travel expenses, and the length of the arbitration.