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Westmont College's Policy on Resolving Conflicts

No matter how good our intentions may be toward another person, at times conflicts will arise. Often workplace conflicts will be minor and will be worked out between the parties with or without intervention by others, and without the need to present a formal complaint. Sometimes the nature of a conflict is more intense or complex, and may best be resolved with the help of others through a more formal process (e.g., a harassment complaint).

It is Westmont's desire that conflicts be resolved as quickly as possible and, where appropriate, with the least amount of formality. Matthew 18 illustrates this principle with its progressive means of dealing with unresolved conflicts between and among Christians.

Westmont's Harassment Policy already provides a procedure for addressing complaints about unlawful harassment (see the Harassment Policy). In addition, the process that follows seeks to provide appropriate ways for dealing with other unresolved complaints about policies, practices, personnel actions and working conditions. It is designed to encourage informal efforts at resolving complaints before a more formal approach is taken.

Several College officials are usually involved in one or more of the College complaint procedures listed above: Director of Human Resources, Associate Director of Human Resources, Special Assistant to the President for Legal Affairs, Vice President for Administration, Provost, and the Vice President and Dean of Students. As a result, employees should feel free to contact any of these people to seek clarification or advice regarding any of Westmont's complaint procedures, or to submit a complaint to them.

Complaint Resolution Procedure
(excluding harassment complaints)

Informal Steps

  1. In most cases, employees should first attempt to resolve complaints by personally discussing the matter with the other party(ies) involved. Often, directly confronting the problem in this way is the simplest way to resolve conflicts and reconcile relationships.
  2. If a complaint cannot be successfully resolved informally between the parties, the employee should then discuss the matter with his or her immediate supervisor, who may be helpful in mediating a resolution to the problem. (If the employee's complaint is with the immediate supervisor, then the employee should then discuss the matter with the supervisor of the immediate supervisor.)

Formal Steps

  1. 1. If the supervisor is unsuccessful in helping to resolve the problem, the employee (the "complainant") should submit a written summary of the complaint to the Vice President for Administration*, who will then meet with appropriate College officials to determine how best to review and respond to the complaint. The complainant will receive an initial written acknowledgement from the Vice President for Administration generally within (5) working days following receipt of the written complaint. This acknowledgement will outline the process for reviewing and responding to the complaint (including who will be involved in the process, the projected timeline, and who will respond in writing to the complainant).
  2. 2. As soon as possible thereafter, the employee will receive a written response to his or her complaint. If the complaint is not resolved to the complainant's satisfaction, the employee may appeal to the President as the final level of review. This final appeal must be made in writing to the President, generally within 10 working days following receipt of the written response to his or her complaint and specify the reason(s) for the appeal.

At the time of the appeal, the President will make the final determination as to the process for reviewing and responding to the appeal (including who will be involved and the projected timeline for reviewing and responding to the appeal). If the President decides that verbal testimony will be heard during the final appeal, the proceedings will be informal. Consequently, legal counsel, rules of evidence, and other elements typically found in judicial proceedings will not be permitted at such hearings. If the President decides that others will be involved in reviewing the appeal, the(se) reviewer(s) will not have the authority to impose or retract sanctions of any kind, only to submit a written report to the President.

As soon as possible following receipt of any written report and recommendations from the(se) reviewer(s), the President will issue a final decision in writing to the complainant.

* If the unresolved problem is with the Vice President for Administration, then the written complaint should be given to the President (who will then meet with appropriate College officials to determine how best to review and respond to the complaint).

Approved by President Winter September, 2000