Williams College Employee Handbook
There are two grievance procedures at the College. One is the General Grievance Procedures for Complaints of Unfair Employment Practices outlined here. The other is the Discrimination Grievance Procedures for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination.
General Grievance Procedures For Complaints Of Unfair Employment Practices
Williams College recognizes that problems, complaints or grievances may arise in the daily relationships between the college as an employer and its employees as well as among employees themselves. It is the responsibility of all employees, both staff and supervisors, to establish a working climate in which problems or complaints can be readily brought to the attention of an appropriate college official (normally the immediate supervisor) and given fair consideration. No employee should hesitate to seek redress for a legitimate grievance or fear retaliation for doing so.
Scope of these procedures
The grievance procedures set forth in this policy apply to complaints of unfair practices that relate to the terms and conditions of employment, specifically, claim of unfairness in connection with (1) the interpretation or application of college policies and procedures; (2) working conditions including issues of environmental or workplace safety; and (3) formal disciplinary action, not including termination of employment.
These procedures may not be used to grieve the actual terms of the college’s employment policies and employee compensation plans, only claims of unfairness in connection with the interpretation or application of such policies or plans. These procedures also may not be used to grieve individual performance reviews or informal disciplinary actions such as verbal warnings or verbal reprimands.
If a question exists as to whether a particular matter is covered by these procedures, the Director of Human Resources will decide in consultation with the Vice President for Finance and Administration.
STEP 1 – informal discussion with the immediate supervisor and/or department head
The person asserting the grievance generally should attempt to resolve the problem informally with their immediate supervisor. Should that not be appropriate under the circumstances or not successful in resolving the matter, the person asserting the grievance should bring the matter to the attention of the department head.
STEP 2 – written complaint to the Director of Human Resources
If the matter cannot be resolved informally within the department, the person asserting the grievance may file a written complaint with the Director of Human Resources. Any such complaint must be delivered to the Director, in writing, within 5 business days after the person asserting the grievance knows or should know that the matter cannot be resolved informally within the department. If the Director determines that the complaint is not timely or is not within the scope of these procedures, the Director may dismiss the grievance, in which case the Director will so inform the person asserting the grievance in writing.
If the Director determines that the complaint is timely and within the scope of these procedures, the Director will provide a copy of the complaint to the person(s) against whom the grievance is asserted; review the matter in whatever manner the Director deems appropriate under the circumstances; and attempt to arrive at a resolution that is acceptable to all concerned. If such an agreed resolution cannot be reached, the Director will decide whether the grievance has merit and, if so, how it should be resolved. The Director will deliver their decision to the parties involved in writing.
The Associate Director of Human Resources may act as the Director’s designee in this process.
STEP 3 – appeal to the Vice President for Finance and Administration
The person asserting the grievance may appeal a decision by the Director of Human Resources to the Vice President for Finance and Administration. Any such appeal must be made in writing within five business days after delivery of the Director’s decision. The Vice President will provide a copy of the appeal to the person(s) against whom the grievance is asserted and review the matter in whatever manner the Vice President deems appropriate under the circumstances. The Vice President may affirm or modify the Director’s decision in whole or in part, in which case the Vice President’s decision is final. Alternatively, the Vice President may remand the matter to the Director for additional consideration and a further decision, in which case that decision may be appealed in accordance with this paragraph.
Conflicts and recusal
In the event a grievance is asserted against or otherwise cannot be addressed by the Director of Human Resources, the Vice President for Finance and Administration will designate another college official to serve the role of the Director under these procedures. In the event a grievance is asserted against or otherwise cannot be addressed by the Vice President for Finance and Administration, the President will serve, or designate another college official to serve, the role of the Vice President under these procedures.
Revised: March 2017