Original Date: 9/30/2003 * Last Revision Effective: 2/5/2015
Policy Contact: Vice President, Human Resources
The following procedures are established to provide for the resolution of general complaints involving Bellevue College employees and to meet the requirements for implementing policy #1450 – Complaint Policy.
The college takes seriously its obligation to respond to disputes, conflicts or complaints and to facilitate equitable and timely resolution to the degree possible. These procedures identify resolution options available to students, staff and visitors to campus who have a general concern regarding a college employee(s). Resolution options for concerns regarding possible discrimination are outlined in 1440P Discrimination Complaint Resolution Procedures. Resolution options for academic concerns are outlined in 1450P2 Student Academic Dispute Resolution Procedure. Contract violations must be addressed through the appropriate grievance process. Concerns regarding student contact must be addressed through the student code.
It is against college policy to penalize or retaliate against any party for his or her participation in these resolution procedures. College employees are required to participate, provide information as requested, and otherwise fully cooperate with the processes described herein.
The college encourages resolution of concerns at the lowest level possible, beginning with the individuals involved and moving to the unit, department or division level. The college strongly encourages individuals to consider a facilitated resolution of identified concerns.
How To Request Resolution
Any individual who has a general concern involving the conduct of a college employee may request resolution by contacting the human resources office (HRO).
What Happens After Requesting a Dispute/Complaint Resolution
Meeting with the Initiator – A representative from the human resources office (HRO) will contact the individual requesting resolution (initiator), generally within two business days, to schedule an initial meeting to discuss the concerns of the initiator and to discuss facilitated options. The identified concern may be resolved during this meeting.
The HRO will inform complainants and respondents that they are entitled to representation throughout the resolution process. The HRO will also inform complainants and respondents that her/his bargaining unit representative (if applicable) will be notified that a concern has been raised, unless the participant requests that no notification be made.
- Facilitated Resolution: Facilitated resolution options typically include facilitated conversation, conciliation, or mediation. A facilitator will be assigned by HRO to work with the individual raising the concern and the individual identified in the concern. Reasonable effort will be made to begin the resolution process within five (5) business days after the meeting with the initiator. The facilitator will meet separately with the parties and will determine the appropriate process to be used to facilitate resolution. Depending on the option selected and availability of parties, facilitated resolution options typically will conclude within fifteen (15) business days of beginning that process.
- HRO Investigation: If a resolution of the concern is not reached through facilitated resolution, a formal investigation may be initiated upon request of the initiator. In some instances, the nature of the dispute, conflict, or complaint may warrant investigation at the outset.
- Investigator: HRO investigations are conducted by college staff or an outside investigator, as determined by the HRO. The parties will be notified of the investigator assigned. The investigator acts as a fact-finder, and will interview the complainant(s), the respondent(s), and other persons with direct knowledge of the matter being investigated in order to determine the facts. The HRO investigator may interview other parties who have knowledge of relevant information or review documents or other related information necessary to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged violations or inappropriate behavior.
- Timeframe: Reasonable effort will be made to conclude HRO investigations within thirty (30) business days or sooner if possible. All primary parties will be kept informed of the progress of the investigation periodically. In the event of any unforeseen delays or unusual circumstances, parties will be advised of a new estimated timeframe for completion.
- Report of Findings: At the conclusion of an HRO investigation, the investigator will provide a confidential written report summarizing the allegations investigated and findings of fact to the individual complainant(s), the respondent(s), and the vice president of human resources.
- Students – Students who are not satisfied with the final disposition of an HRO investigation may file a written appeal to the vice president of student services. Such written appeal must be submitted within ten (10) business days of notification of the results of the investigation. The appeal should include any and all additional information he/she wants the vice president of student services to consider. The vice president of student services will provide a response to the student within 10 business days of receipt of an appeal. The decision of the vice president of student services is final.
- College employees and visitors to campus – Employees and visitors to campus who are not satisfied with the final disposition of an HRO investigation may file a written appeal to the college president, or designee. Such written appeal must be submitted within ten (10) business days of notification of results of the investigation. The appeal should include any and all additional information he/she wants the president, or designee, to consider. The president, or designee, will provide a response to the employee or visitor to campus within ten (10) business days of receipt of an appeal. The decision of the president, or designee, is final.
- Follow up: The administrative head will receive a confidential memorandum from the vice president of human resources, or designee, summarizing the report findings and making recommendation for follow up or administrative action, as appropriate. If a decision is made to take disciplinary action, such action shall be taken in accordance with college policy, procedure and collective bargaining agreements. Reasonable effort will be made to initiate appropriate action within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the investigative report by the administrative head, unless collective bargaining agreements provide otherwise. Appeals of any disciplinary action may be made through the appropriate collective bargaining agreement or the student code
- Concurrent investigations: When a concern is addressed through another resolution process, an HRO investigation usually will not begin or will be suspended pending the completion of the other resolution process and all parties will be so notified.
- Extension of timelines: The college will make reasonable effort to take action within the timelines listed above. Should additional time be needed at any step, HRO will notify the parties of the revised schedule in a timely fashion.
Withdrawal Or Resolution
If, during the course of a facilitated resolution or HRO investigation, the concern is withdrawn or resolved, the parties will be notified that the resolution process will be terminated and the concern file closed.
In the event the complainant(s) does not fully cooperate with the HRO investigator during the resolution process, the HRO investigator will provide written notice to the complainant(s) of the intent to administratively close the file in seven (7) business days unless the complainant(s) notifies the HRO investigator and gives sufficient reason for continuation. Appeal of such an administrative closure will proceed as specified in section 2. d. above.
Intentional dishonesty during the course of an investigation under this procedure shall be subject to corrective or disciplinary action, in accordance with collective bargaining agreements, college policy, or student code.
Accommodation In The Resolution Process
Employees and campus visitors with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in these processes should contact the human resources office (HRO). Students with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in these processes should contact the disability resource center (DRC).
Using Work Time To Participate In The Resolution Process
Employees will be given reasonable release time from their regular work schedules to participate in these processes, following notification of appropriate administrative personnel.
Confidentiality & Rights to Privacy
Individuals concerned about confidentiality should discuss their concerns at or before the initial meeting when exploring resolution options to understand the nature of the confidentiality that is applicable. Confidentiality will be maintained to the degree possible during the resolution process; however, all documentation created at any point in this process could be subject to disclosure and could be used as evidence in an investigation and in a court of law.
Disposition of Records
All materials, documents and related information to the concern/resolution will be retained and maintained in a confidential manner consistent with the public records act and public records retention requirements.
For additional information about these procedures, contact:
Human Resources Office
- Human Resources Office
- Individual(s) raising a concern
- Individual(s), other than the complainant, involved in a concern or to whom the concern is directed
- Individual authorized to initiate disciplinary action
Relevant Laws and Other Resources
- Bellevue College Ombuds Office
Revisions 9/30/2003; 3/22/2005; 4/18/2006; 5/21/2009; 10/5/2010; 9/11/2012; 2/5/2015
Last Updated February 5, 2015