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Rice University Human Resources Policy No. 429-00

 

PROBLEM SOLVING  

APPLIES TO ALL RICE UNIVERSITY STAFF  

Rice University strives to foster an environment in which everyone feels free to bring up professional issues and employment problems for constructive consideration. The University recommends three problem-solving processes: informal problem solving, mediation, and formal problem solving. People who are not satisfied with the outcomes of informal problem solving or mediation may request formal problem solving. All employees may use these processes freely and without fear of punishment or intimidation. Supervisors are expected to recognize that employees may need help in solving problems. However, frivolous claims may be grounds for disciplinary action. Note the following exceptions: For complaints involving sexual harassment, employees should follow the steps explained in the Sexual Harassment Policy . For complaints alleging unlawful discrimination, the Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Programs should be consulted for investigation and resolution. Complaints about official University policies should be addressed to the President's Office for referral to the appropriate University official(s).

Informal Problem Solving  

Most staff members and their supervisors can solve their problems informally. In addition, supervisors can sometimes help two employees understand and resolve their differences. Informal resolutions are encouraged within each department or division. However, employees are always welcome to discuss their problems directly with Human Resources staff who will try to encourage mutual understanding and fair decisions.

Mediation: An alternate dispute-resolving procedure  

A staff member or a supervisor who does not agree with the outcome of the informal problem solving process may choose mediation as a second step in solving problems. Mediation may also be requested at any stage in the formal problem solving process. Both parties must agree to mediation. Mediation is a voluntary procedure led by a specially trained, neutral third person appointed by Human Resources to assist the people in reaching a mutually agreed-upon solution. Information about this approach is available from Human Resources. If no agreement is reached at mediation, either party may request formal problem solving.

Formal Problem Solving  

If a problem is not resolved informally or through mediation, the staff member may choose the formal problem solving process. Procedures for formal problem solving are established by the Director of Human Resources and may be obtained from the Human Resources Department. Rice University has established this formal internal procedure to resolve fairly all concerns related to conditions of employment. No one from outside the University may participate in the formal process. Should mediation be requested during the formal stage, outside mediators may be appointed. Assistance during all phases of the problem solving process is available from the Human Resources Department. There are three possible steps in the formal problem solving procedures.

See also: Problem Solving Procedures
 

 


 

Policy 429-00, dated August 30, 2000
Supercedes:
Policy No. 429-93
Policy No. 429-94
 
Issued: June 16, 1996
Revised: August 30, 2000
 
presiden@rice.edu


 

PROBLEM SOLVING PROCEDURES  

Step 1: Formal Problem Solving within the Department  

Any staff member who wishes to use the formal problem solving process should give a letter of complaint to the immediate supervisor within a reasonable period of time. The letter should describe those acts or occurrences the employee questions and explain what he or she wants done. A copy of the letter of complaint should be sent to the Human Resources Department. The chair or supervisor will respond to the employee in writing after consideration of the matter. The chair or supervisor will forward a copy of the response to the Human Resources Department.

Step 2: Formal Problem Solving by the Dean or Department Director  

If the staff member does not agree with the response, he or she may submit a written appeal to the dean or department director within two weeks after the date shown on the written response. The employee should also send a copy of the appeal to the Human Resources Department. The dean or director will investigate the matter and respond in writing with a copy to Human Resources.

Step 3: Formal Problem Solving by a Vice-President or the Provost  

If the person who requested formal problem solving does not agree with the dean or director's response, he or she may submit a letter of appeal to the Provost or appropriate vice-president within two weeks after the date shown on the written response. The employee should also send a copy of the appeal to the Human Resources Department.

Should the employee and/or the Provost or vice president request a Problem Solving Committee, the Director of Human Resources will appoint a three-member committee.

Committee members who are selected neither shall have been involved in nor shall have detailed knowledge of the matter under review. All grievance committee members are expected to be neutral, unbiased, and respected in the Rice community. The grievance committee will review the matter, and recommend a solution to the Provost or vice president, who will render the final decision.

Record Keeping - Records of formal problem solving proceedings are maintained in a separate file held in the Human Resources Office under the employee's name.