PULLMAN, Wash.–During the next two weeks, Washington State University faculty and staff have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed WSU Complaint Procedures released recently by the committee assigned the task to develop a streamlined complaint procedure for the university.
Felicia Gaskins, assistant vice provost for human relations, who led the seven-member committee, said the proposal is a comprehensive, centralized and consistent process for responding to employee complaints.
“Our role was to design a process that would protect employee confidentiality and provide safeguards against reprisal,” Gaskins said. It also was to provide a system for resolving complaints quickly and at a supervision level closest to the complainant.
The committee chair said those who review the procedures should think about two important aspects: the draft should be seen as a complaint process for all WSU employees not represented by a bargaining unit (employees who are covered by a collective bargaining unit agreement must use that unit’s grievance procedure), and it should be examined for what is missing.
The committee was established in June to design a complaint process based on an early 1997 consultants’ report.
“Consultants were asked to review WSU’s procedures for responding to sexual harassment and discrimination complaints and the working climate for university employees,” she said. From January through April, the Provost’s Office, under the leadership of then vice provost Geoff Gamble, conducted interviews with more than 30 faculty and staff members and received feedback from the university in response to the consultant’s report.
In late May, Ernestine Madison, vice provost for human relations and resources, appointed the committee to develop the complaint process and implementation plan.
The proposed complaint process is a four-step procedure: initiating a complaint, initiating written complaint to an upper-level supervisor, convening an Employee Complaint Committee and final resolution by appointing authority. At any of the steps, the complaint may be resolved.
Subcommittees also were appointed to revise and update the existing discrimination and sexual harassment policy and procedures. It, too, is before the university community for review and comment.
The policy and procedures against discrimination, including sexual harassment, include a new complaint process for all WSU employees and students referencing other processes that may be accessed when appropriate, such as the bargaining unit grievance processes and procedures described in the Faculty Manual.
Gaskins said the committee reviewed the written responses as well as all existing policies and procedures related to institutional complaint response, including the Faculty Manual, Student Handbook and Staff Personnel Complaint Procedure (1986).
After comments are considered by the committee, the complaint procedure and discrimination policy will be sent to the administration for its consideration.
Copies of the new complaint procedure and revised sexual harassment policy and procedures are available from Gaskins at the Conflict Resolution Program, 335-6648.
Questions can be directed to any of the committee members: Gaskins; Sherry Bye, Institutional Review Board coordinator; Mark Cassidy, labor and employee relations specialist; Cindy Gallagher, Diversity Education director; Deborah Love, Center for Human Rights director; David Moers, Human Resource Services director; and Toni Ursich, acting division chief, Attorney GeneralÕs office.
Address written comments to the Conflict Resolution Program by Feb. 16, zip 2403, attention: Felicia E. Gaskins.