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C06.1 Resolution of Conflicts and Concerns among RIT Employees

Scope: RIT employees as defined in II.D below.

  1. RATIONALE
    RIT Employees (defined below in II.D), shall be able to use this policy to resolve conflicts and concerns in the work place related to other employees not covered by other university policies. This policy applies only when such conflicts and concerns are not alleged to be based on an individual's group, class, or category (see II.E). For conflicts and concerns alleged to be based on an individual's group, class, or category, RIT’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (C6.0) shall govern.

    All Employees shall strive to create an environment that is free of conflicts and concerns and should advise the university whenever a condition exists that may give rise to such conflicts and concerns. RIT shall take reasonable steps and provide multiple procedures to resolve conflicts and concerns within the university environment whenever it is advised of the existence of such conflicts and concerns.

  2. DEFINITIONS
    Terms not defined elsewhere in this policy are defined below:

    1. Accused means any employee alleged to have engaged in behavior which created a conflict or concern in the university environment.

    2. Business Days means Monday through Friday and does not include official RIT holidays.

    3. Complainant means any employee raising a concern about a conflict or behavior in the workplace.

    4. RIT Employee includes faculty, staff and students in their roles as employees as defined in E1.0-Employee Work Classifications.

    5. Group, class or category includes, but is not limited to, race, religion, age, citizenship, color, creed, culture (including deaf culture), actual or perceived disabilities, gender, marital status, ethnic or national origin, political affiliation or preference, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or genetic predisposition.

    6. RIT supervisor means any person in a position at RIT which requires him or her to supervise other individuals and to write performance evaluations on them, whether or not this individual supervises any of the parties involved in the conflict or concern.

  3. GENERAL PROVISIONS

    1. Confidentiality. Confidentiality will be maintained consistent with an attempt to resolve conflicts and concerns. It should be understood that, to resolve a conflict or concern and take action to resolve any wrongdoing or misunderstanding, it will be necessary to share information with a limited number of other people. Information concerning an issue will be shared only as necessary in order to resolve the situation successfully. Others who may be informed about the issue include people who are possible sources of information concerning the facts and RIT supervisors. (See Appendix A for greater detail.)

    2. Records of Allegations. Any records created under this policy will be recorded in the Central, Confidential Employee Relations File. These files are separate from employees' personnel files and students' official records and are maintained in the Office of the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources.

      1. Access to these central confidential files will be controlled by the assistant vice president of Human Resources.

      2. RIT supervisors may request that the central confidential files be examined by an authorized representative of Human Resources for entries regarding an employee when such information is relevant to the resolution of a pending case.

      3. Employees may also request that the central confidential file be examined by an authorized representative of Human Resources and that they be informed of any entries pertaining to themselves as an accused, provided that the names, but not the existence of, complainants are withheld if not previously disclosed to the accused.

      4. The records in the central confidential employee relations files will be reviewed and updated by the assistant vice president of Human Resources in accordance with the provisions of the Records Management Policy (C22.0).

    3. Records of Violations.  Investigations of conflicts and concerns that reveal a violation of any university policy and result in any disciplinary sanctions will be recorded in the official personnel file or student record of the person found in violation.

    4. Notes. Individuals involved in any of the procedures for resolving conflicts or concerns may take notes of meetings, actions, or any other aspect of the process. These notes may be requested as evidence, by either party and because they are RIT Records, they shall be maintained in accordance with the Records Management Policy (C22.0).

    5. Reporting a Conflict or Concern. Any employee may report a conflict within the university environment. In addition to the procedures set forth below, concerns may be communicated in person or in writing to the Human Resources Department, Office of Legal Affairs, Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, the Assistant Vice President of Compliance & Ethics, the RIT president, any RIT vice president, the Ombuds Office, or any RIT supervisor.

    6. Retaliation. The university prohibits retaliation against any member of the RIT Community because they have filed a complaint alleging a violation of this Policy, opposed any practice in violation of this Policy and have participated in the processes described in this Policy. Complaints alleging retaliation shall utilize the same procedures for filing complaints alleging violations of this Policy.

  4. Procedures for Resolution
    Employees have several options for resolving conflicts and concerns. RIT has designated the Office of Human Resources, the vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, and the director of the Center for Women and Gender as general advisors to assist individuals with understanding the procedures available to resolve a concern or conflict and to provide assistance with informal resolution of conflicts and concerns.

    It is important to note, however, that the officials named above (with the exception of those who are  licensed counselors) are obligated by law to initiate an investigation of any allegation that is based on an individual's group, class, or category and is by its nature a violation of federal, state or local laws. The officials are to immediately inform the university's Human Resources Department in these situations and an investigation under the provisions of C6.0 will be initiated.

    The Ombuds may be used for confidential advice as well based on RIT policy. (See Appendix A for greater detail.)

    The procedures for resolving conflicts and concerns include:

    1. Informal Resolution. Any employee who has a concern or has identified a conflict with another employee can directly discuss the issue with the other employee to try to informally resolve the matter. An employee may also discuss the concern directly with his/her supervisor. This informal resolution can be in person or in writing.

      In addition and as noted above, RIT has designated the Office of Human Resources, the vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, the director of the Center for Women and Gender, and the Ombuds as general advisors to provide assistance with informal resolution of conflicts and concerns. Informal resolution, like all procedures, is an option. No records or sanctions result from using informal resolution, and using it does not preclude any person from using another procedure listed in this policy. If the issue is not satisfactorily resolved, either party may use another procedure listed in this policy.

    2. Mediation. Any employee who has a concern or has identified a conflict with another employee may request the process of mediation to resolve a conflict or concern. Mediation is a voluntary process that begins when the parties involved in the conflict agree to meet together with a neutral person identified by the university as a mediator. The objective of mediation is to work out a written agreement between the parties regarding future behavior.

      Additional steps and information related to the mediation procedure include:

      1. A request for mediation must be made in writing, signed by the requesting parties, and sent to the assistant vice president of Human Resources.

      2. The requesting parties can select a mediator from those available and recommended by RIT or, if the parties choose, a mediator can be assigned by the assistant vice president of Human Resources.

      3. The mediator's role is to serve as a neutral facilitator, outline the process, and assist the parties in arriving at a written agreement. No other parties are to participate in the mediation other than the mediator and the parties requesting mediation.

      4. Mediation can be ended at any time by any party participating in the process. An agreement does not need to be reached by this process.

      5. Mediation, if successful, will result in a record of agreement prepared by the mediator and signed by the participating parties. Copies of this signed agreement will be sent to the parties. The mediator will send a copy of the signed agreement to the assistant vice president of Human Resources to be maintained in the Central, Confidential Employee Relations File.

      6. The mediator does not keep a copy of the agreement, nor does the mediator enforce the agreement. Each party to the agreement is expected to abide by its terms.

      7. Mediation, like all procedures listed in this policy, is an option. Other than any written agreement reached by the parties, no records or sanctions result from mediation.

      8. In cases involving allegations that a university policy has been violated, using mediation does not preclude the participating parties from using another procedure listed in this policy. If either party uses another procedure listed in this policy, the mediator shall not appear as a witness on behalf of any of the parties to the mediation, unless the mediator has knowledge of facts and circumstances that are relevant to the resolution of the alleged violation.

      9. If either or both parties are dissatisfied with the results of the mediation process, they may use another procedure listed in this policy.

    3. HR Investigation. There may be times when an employee or an RIT supervisor becomes aware of a concern about an employee or a situation of workplace conflict and believes that, in order to further the university's goal of resolving workplace conflict, it is necessary to ask a representative from Human Resources to perform an internal investigation. In addition, supervisors are obligated by law to request an investigation of any allegation that is by its nature a violation of federal, state or local Laws. Supervisors are to immediately inform the university’s Human Resources Department in these situations.

      If an investigation is initiated, the procedures under RIT's Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (C6.0) related to an HR investigation shall be used.

  5. Resources
    (Note: Appendix A has important information regarding university resources for the resolution of conflicts and concerns among RIT employees.)

    RIT's primary concern is with the health, safety, and well-being of its faculty, staff, and students. Assistance can be obtained from several RIT departments, including the following:

    Office of Diversity and Inclusion
    475-6546
    http://www.rit.edu/diversity/

    The Ombuds office
    475-7200
    http://www.rit.edu/ombuds/

    Counseling Center
    475-2261 
    http://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/counseling/

    Public Safety
    475-2853 (General)
    205-8333 (Text)
    475-3333 (Emergency)
    http://finweb.rit.edu/publicsafety/

    Center for Women and Gender/CARES Program
    475-7464
    http://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/womenandgender/

    Center for Student Conduct
    475-5662
    http://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/studentconduct/

    Human Resources
    475-2424 
    http://finweb.rit.edu/humanresources/

    Student Conduct Advocacy Program
    475-7668
    http://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/studentconduct/advocacy.php

Responsible Offices:
Human Resources Department
Office of Vice President, Student Affairs
Office of Legal Affairs

Policy History (as part of C6.0):
Approved April 13, 1994
Revised October 1996
Revised January 20, 1999
Edited October 2000 to reflect department name change – ‘RIT Judicial Process’ was changed to ‘RIT Student Conduct Process’
Revised April 20, 2005 - revised to include the words, "gender identity" and "gender expression."
Edited January 18, 2008 to reflect title changes – ‘Student Ombudsperson’ was changed to ‘Ombudsperson’ and ‘Coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center’ was changed to ‘Director of the Women’s Resource Center.’
Edited February 26, 2009
Edited August 2010
Edited October 2010 (department name change and removal of EDF references)
Revised August 2012 (Content of new C6.1 removed from C6.0)

Policy History (as C6.1):
May 2014 (Content removed from C6.0 and revised; approved as separate policy - C6.1)

Appendix A

University Resources for the Resolution of Conflicts and Concerns among RIT Employees

The following chart and its explanatory notes are designed to provide information to faculty, staff, and students about the many offices available as resources to assist individuals with resolving workplace conflicts and concerns.

Types of Functions and Processes:

Advice and Counsel

Assists individuals by listening and providing advice, counsel, and coaching on how to handle the situation and/or provides information on what procedural steps to take next

Conflict Resolution

Facilitates communication between involved parties to assist in informal resolution of conflict

Internal Investigations

As self-initiated, or at request of individual, conducts investigation and issues report of findings to appropriate administrator for decision-making and follow-up action as warranted

Informal vs. Formal Processes and Functions:

Informal

Contact with this office/role generally does not result in formal action.

Informal and Formal

Some functions and processes of this office/role are informal, some are formal. Engaging an informal function or process of this office/role may result in formal action if required for legal or policy compliance.

Formal

Contact with this office will result in formal action.

Degree of Control for Person with Concern:

High

Once contact is made, person with concern can maintain or withdraw contact from office/role at will.

Medium

Once contact is made, person with concern may or may not be able to maintain or withdraw contact with the office/role depending on the circumstances communicated

Low

Once contact is made, person with concern relinquishes control to the office/role for further action.

University Resources for the Resolution of Conflicts and Concerns among RIT Employees

Office or Role

Functions and Processes

Formal or Informal

Degree of Control for Person with Concern

Comments

Ombuds Office

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Conflict Resolution

Informal and Formal

High

Confidential, independent, informal and impartial conflict resolution and complaint resource for anyone in the university.  Provides conflict resolution and management services and guidance, consultation, conflict coaching, informal mediation, referrals, policy guidance.

The Ombuds office is not an “office-of-notice” for the university.  This means contact with the Ombuds Office is "off the record" and does not constitute formal notice of any claims to RIT.  Exploration of all options includes sharing university resources including those for formal complaints and investigations

VP for Diversity & Inclusion

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Conflict Resolution

 

Informal and Formal

Medium

Provides advice, counsel, and conflict resolution services in situations that do not require formal investigation.

As an office-of-notice, determines if seriousness of situation requires formal investigation.  If so, engages authorized office/role to conduct.

Center for Women & Gender

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Conflict Resolution

 

Informal and Formal

Medium

Provides advice, counsel, and conflict resolution services in situations that do not require formal investigation.

As an office-of-notice, determines if seriousness of situation requires formal investigation.  If so, engages authorized office/role to conduct.

RIT Ethics Hotline

  • Internal Investigations

Formal

Low

This system capability is intended to provide RIT community members with a method to anonymously report concerns related to improper conduct involving financial reporting, accounting, internal controls, protection or use of University assets, or regulatory compliance.

Although degree of control for person with concern is low, all contact through the RIT Ethics Hotline remains anonymous. 

Individuals responsible for follow up on reports submitted via the RIT Ethics Hotline determine what actions can or will be taken based on information provided.  Anonymous correspondence between report recipient and reporter often occurs, which can greatly assist in issue resolution.

Supervisors

 

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Internal Investigations

Informal and Formal

Medium

Often the first point of contact for informal resolution of conflicts and concerns between employees.  May request an internal investigation by Human Resources if the situation warrants this level of support.

Public Safety

  • Internal Investigations

Formal

Low

First-responder to on-campus incidents involving conduct that jeopardizes individuals’ safety.

As an office-of-notice, determines if seriousness of situation requires formal investigation.  If so, initiates and conducts.

Depending on nature of conduct, may involve external law enforcement agency.

Human Resources

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Internal Investigations

Informal and Formal

Medium

 

 

 

 

Supports all employees (including students in their capacity as an employee)

Provides advice, counsel, and conflict resolution services in situations that do not require formal investigation.

As an office-of-notice, determines if seriousness of situation requires formal investigation.  If so, conducts investigations.

Student Employment

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Conflict Resolution

 

Informal and Formal

Medium

Handles issues of conduct in situations in which students are employees of the university.

Provides advice, counsel, and conflict resolution services in situations that do not require formal investigation.

As an office-of-notice, determines if seriousness of situation requires formal investigation.  If so, engages authorized office/role to conduct.

Peers

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Conflict Resolution

 

Informal and Formal

Medium

Individual members of the RIT community are expected to report observations of inappropriate conduct, but are not authorized to conduct internal investigations.

A peer may or may not be able to provide accurate advice and counsel or effective conflict resolution.

Institute Audit, Compliance & Advisement

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Internal Investigations

Informal and Formal

Medium

Initiates and conducts formal fraud investigations as warranted. 

Can provide advice and counsel. When a formal fraud investigation is not warranted or applicable, provides information on alternative reporting options.

As an office-of-notice, determines if seriousness of situation requires formal investigation.  If so, engages authorized office/role to conduct.

Center for Student Conduct

  • Advice and Counsel

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Internal Investigations

Informal and Formal

Medium

Provides support for all Student Non-academic Misconduct.

Office of Legal Affairs

  • Internal Investigations

Formal

Low

Provides legal support for the university.

Can provide advice, counsel and information on alternative reporting options.

As an office-of-notice, determines if seriousness of situation requires formal investigation.  If so, engages authorized office/role to conduct.

Updated 03-13-14

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