Employee Dispute Resolution

Policy No: 
7.7
Type of Policy: 
Administrative
Last Revised: 
February 2014
Review Date: 
February 2017
Policy Owner: 
Human Resources
Contact Name: 
Eric White
Contact Title: 
Strategic Performance Consultant
Contact Email: 
eric.white@ohr.gatech.edu
Reason for Policy: 

The purpose of the Employee Dispute Resolution policy is to increase employee options in addressing Institute-related disputes and to encourage voluntary resolution of problems at the earliest opportunity. Georgia Tech supports the goals of the Board of Regent's Policy on Dispute Resolution. Faculty, classified staff, and student employees are encouraged to seek equitable and satisfactory resolution of any conflict within the Institute through discussion with the persons and departments involved, preferably at the first indication of a problem. Employees are also encouraged to seek guidance from their department’s Human Resources Business Partner or Human Resources Representative concerning any workplace dispute. Faculty members may contact the Faculty Ombuds Office, and classified staff may contact the Classified Staff Ombuds, for confidential assistance with resolving conflict. Employees may also seek to resolve the dispute through the informal process described in this policy.

Policy Statement: 

The Institute recognizes the benefits of resolving disputes through informal means that are designed to decrease the reliance on adversarial processes. All employees and departments are encouraged to resolve disputes effectively and fairly at the lowest possible level.

It is the policy of Georgia Tech that work-related disputes be addressed in a manner that encourages constructive resolution of conflict and provides the opportunity for productive learning and work relationships. The Institute encourages administrators, faculty, and staff to consider resolving their disputes through alternative, non-adversarial processes with the assistance of a neutral third party prior to filing formal grievances. Dispute resolution processes are not intended to and may not be used as an appeal mechanism after decisions have been resolved through more formal proceedings.

Scope: 

Entities Affected By This Policy
All faculty and staff at Georgia Tech are covered by this policy.

Who Should Read This Policy
All faculty and staff at Georgia Tech should be aware of this policy.

Policy Terms: 

Neutral
An individual who is trained or experienced in providing dispute resolution services. This individual has no stake in the dispute or controversy other than to assist the parties in reaching an agreement or resolution.

Dispute Resolution Processes
Any structured process in which a neutral assists parties to a dispute in reaching a voluntary settlement or resolution, such as mediation, facilitation, or negotiation.

Procedures: 

To resolve conflicts at the earliest possible stage and to address problems with the least damage to future learning and working relationships, assistance through dispute resolution processes is available to all employees.

Examples of disputes that may be appropriate for these processes include:

  • Disputes between colleagues stemming from differing personality types or work styles;
  • Disputes related to perceived lack of clarity or consistency regarding work assignments, goals, or expectations;
  • A belief that Institute policies, practices, rules, regulations, or procedures have been applied inconsistently;
  • Conflicts related to conditions of employment such as scheduling, vacation, fringe benefits, holidays, performance reviews, salary, or seniority; and
  • General communication breakdowns/barriers.

Participation in a dispute resolution process is voluntary. All parties to a dispute must agree to participate in such a process before arrangements will be made for a session. No presumption of fault is drawn from a party's decision to proceed with or to forego the opportunity to engage in a dispute resolution process.

Participants in dispute resolution processes do not forfeit the right or opportunity to participate in other appropriate procedures. Likewise, participants in other available procedures do not forfeit the right to participate in dispute resolution processes; however, participants may not use dispute resolution processes to revisit issues already resolved in a final decision or ruling on a grievance or complaint.

Time spent engaged in dispute resolution processes is considered part of an employee’s normal working time, and supervisors must make reasonable efforts to allow employees to participate in such processes. Employees are not required to take annual or other leave to participate in dispute resolution processes. Supervisors may authorize the use of overtime for such purposes only under extraordinary circumstances.

Both the neutral and the parties are to keep the statements made during the dispute resolution process confidential. However, all participants, including the neutral, are required to report statements that reveal conduct that is criminal or that poses a clear threat to the safety of others or the proper operation of the Institute.

The parties are encouraged to memorialize the resolution of their workplace dispute in writing whenever possible. The purpose of such a written document is to ensure that everyone involved in the dispute has a common understanding concerning the resolution of the dispute.

Dispute Resolution Limitations

The Dispute Resolution program is not available for:

  • Disputes that have been the subject of a final ruling or decision according to other policies and procedures. For example, if someone’s employment has already been terminated, that person may not utilize dispute resolution processes to appeal or negotiate the termination decision;
  • Disputes involving criminal charges or serious threats to persons or property;
  • Disputes involving claims of sexual harassment or alleged discrimination because of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or veteran status; and
  • Disputes that do not concern the official business of the Institute.

On-Campus Resources

Georgia Tech's Dispute Resolution Program is administered by OHR’s Talent Management Team who shall act as a first point of contact for any member of the Georgia Tech community who wishes to use this program. If the Talent Management Team determines that use of this program is appropriate given the specific nature of the dispute, the Talent Management Team will refer the parties to a designated neutral who will meet with the parties to the dispute and assist with appropriate dispute resolution processes. In addition, members of the Talent Management Team are available to work with employees, supervisors, and departments to facilitate informal discussions to clarify issues, improve communication, and repair working relationships.

The Faculty Ombuds Office is a confidential resource for all faculty members on campus. The Faculty Ombuds is a neutral that advocates not for a specific individual, but for the equitable resolution of work-related problems and concerns. http://www.policylibrary.gatech.edu/faculty-handbook/3.1.8-concerns-complaints-and-ombuds-office

Off-Campus Neutrals

At times, the Talent Management Team may deem it appropriate to obtain a neutral from off-campus. In these instances, the Talent Management Team will contact and retain an experienced neutral from outside of Georgia Tech to assist parties through dispute resolution processes.

The Classified Staff Ombuds is a neutral and confidential third-party resource who can assist staff in determining options to resolve conflicts and problematic concerns. http://www.ohr.gatech.edu/staffombuds.

Responsibilities: 

The responsibilities each party has in connection with the Dispute Resolution Program are:

Party Responsibility
Talent Management, Office of Human Resources Administer policy, ensure compliance, and offer assistance with policy interpretation
Map of Georgia Tech

Compliance and Policy Management
760 Spring Street N.W. Suite 324
Phone: 404-385-0731