Carnegie Mellon University

Formal Process for Resolving Work-Related Problems

Where an employee believes they have wrongly been subjected to an “adverse action,” they can file a formal staff grievance. For purposes of this formal grievance process, “adverse action” is defined to include written warning, suspension without pay, demotion, reduction in title or salary, performance improvement plan, probation as defined in Volume V, Section 4D of the Staff Handbook, and furlough.

Staff members can use the grievance procedure without fear of reprisal or retaliation. It is a clear violation of university policy for a supervisor to retaliate against a staff member who uses the grievance procedure.

This page provides a summary of the formal grievance procedure; for full details, please refer to the Staff Handbook [pdf]. For information on filing other formal complaints, see Other Types of Policy Violations

To file a grievance, the staff member submits a written statement describing the work-related problem and detailing the relevant facts and circumstances to the assistant vice president for HR, people and organizational effectiveness within 30 calendar days of the effective date of the adverse action or 30 days from the date the employee is notified or otherwise learns of the action, whichever is later.

Note: The timelines below for response at each stage are intended to set general expectations; it is understood that the responsible supervisor at each stage may take as much time as is necessary to render a decision or attempt to achieve resolution.

Step 1

The assistant vice president for HR, people and organizational effectiveness (AVPHR) will take the following actions:

  • Within 10 business days following the meeting with the grievant, the AVPHR will meet with the direct supervisor to discuss the grievance, requested resolution, and the direct supervisor’s response.
  • Within 10 business days of the meeting with the direct supervisor, the AVPHR will provide to the grievant a written summary of the direct supervisor’s response, including any proposed resolution (the Step 1 response).

Step 2

If the staff member does not agree that the grievance has been satisfactorily resolved at Step 1, the staff member must notify the AVPHR in writing (the “written notice”) within 10 days after receiving the Step 1 response that the grievant seeks further review at the level of the department/division/unit head.

  • Within 10 business days after receipt of the written notice, the AVPHR will provide a copy of the grievance and related documentation from Step 1 to the department/division/unit head and will meet with them to discuss the grievance.
  • Within 10 business days of the meeting with the department/division/unit head, the AVPHR will provide to the grievant a written summary of the department/division/unit head’s response, including any proposed resolution (the Step 2 response).

Step 3

If the staff member does not agree that the grievance has been satisfactorily resolved at Step 2, the staff member must notify the AVPHR in writing (the “written notice”) within 10 days after receiving the Step 2 response that the grievant seeks further review at the level of the dean or vice president.

  • Within 10 business days after receipt of the written notice, the AVPHR will provide a copy of the grievance and related documentation from Steps 1 and 2 to the dean/vice president and will meet with them to discuss the grievance.
  • Within 10 business days of the meeting with the dean/vice president, the AVPHR will provide to the grievant a written summary of the dean/vice president’s response, including any proposed resolution.

A decision at the level of the dean/vice president is final and not subject to further review.

  • Staff members who wish to file a formal charge of sexual harassment should refer to the formal complaint procedure for sexual harassment detailed in the Sexual Misconduct Policy (Interim).
  • Staff members who wish to file a formal allegation of discrimination or discriminatory harassment in violation of the university’s Statement of Assurance should contact their HR business partner for appropriate referral.
  • Staff members who wish to file a formal allegation of research misconduct should refer to the Research Misconduct Policy.
  • For questions about violation of any other university policy, please contact your HR business partner who can refer you to the appropriate resource or process.