Reason for Policy
To provide a clear, efficient and transparent grievance process when resolution through informal means has not resolved the concerns.
Staff and volunteers may have occasional problems or issues affecting their work-related activities and it is important to resolve these as soon as possible. The BOD encourages employees to resolve disagreements respectfully through informal, frank, and open discussion. The Team Resources & Communications Manager (TRCM) and Head of Constab are two resources available to assist with informal resolutions. However, the BOD also recognizes that occasionally more formal processes are needed.
The grievance process establishes procedures for fair, orderly, and timely resolution of problems or complaints using a thorough review process. The following principles will serve as the foundation for the grievance process:
- The BOD will deal with grievances expeditiously and fairly.
- Grievances and the proceedings under this policy will be treated with the greatest degree of confidentiality possible. However, limitations on confidentiality may include the BOD’s obligations to investigate grievance allegations, provide individuals accused of misconduct an opportunity to respond, inform appropriate individuals of the imposition of corrective action, or to fulfill duties imposed by law.
- Staff members and volunteers are protected from discrimination and retaliation in connection with exercising rights under this grievance policy.
The TRMC will maintain procedural guidance for the grievance process.
SeaDog Nights Grievance Procedures
Article I – Overview
This procedure establishes the process for the fair, orderly, and timely resolution of grievances raised by staff members and/or volunteers. Staff members and volunteers will not be discriminated or retaliated against for exercising their rights under the grievance process.
Article II – Grievable Issues
Any SeaDog Nation (SDN) staff or volunteer can file a grievance related to:
- An adverse staffing/volunteer action, including but not limited to discipline and involuntary separation from their position;
- An action or inaction that is negatively impacting their work environment; OR
- Any allegation that he or she has been or currently is being adversely affected by an improper application or interpretation of a rule, regulation, policy, or procedure.
To file a grievance, the SDN Board of Director (BOD) member or the employee’s actions or inactions must have adversely impacted the aggrieved individual. A staff/volunteer may not file on behalf of others. However, staff/volunteers may file jointly IF
- Each individual who is a party to the grievance signs the grievance AND
- The underlying facts and allegations relevant in each grievance are substantially similar.
If a staff/volunteer knows of a violation of policy or the law, but is not being harmed by the violation, they should notify the Team Resources & Communications Manager (TRCM) to correct the issue.
- Complaints from or against event attendees should be filed with the Head of Constab who oversaw the event at which the offense occurred.
- Criminal Acts must be reported to the police. The BOD, TRCM, nor the Grievance Committee (GC) can be responsible for adjudicating crimes.
Article III – Informal Resolution Procedure
Regular and effective communication reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings and conflict. The BOD encourages teams to communicate openly and regularly so that potential issues are addressed at the lowest level possible. Supervisors are encouraged to avail themselves of training opportunities on matters of communication, equity & inclusion, performance management, and other human resources topics to enhance their supervisory skills.
Before initiating Step 1 of the grievance process, the staff member/volunteer is encouraged to make at least one attempt to resolve the issue informally, if possible. Facilitation assistance for this informal resolution is available through the TRCM or Head of Constab. In accordance with federal guidelines, it is important to note that informal processes are not appropriate if the underlying allegations relate to sex discrimination or involve violence, intimidation, a hostile atmosphere, or other violent actions.
Article IV – Formal Resolution – Filing a Grievance
Formal grievances may be filed on any of the grievable issues noted above.
All grievances must be in writing and must include at least:
- The basis for the grievance, including: the policy, rule, or law provision that the grievant believes to have been violated, the circumstances that are negatively impacting the grievant, or the personnel action being grieved.
- A statement describing the nature of the grievance, the approximate date of the event(s) giving rise to the grievance, the name(s) of identifiable persons involved, and any other information the staff member/volunteer believes should be considered.
- Whether a meeting is requested.
- A recommendation for resolution.
If the grievance states that another staff member/volunteer acted contrary to SDN policy or the law, that staff member/volunteer will be provided with a copy of the grievance, subject to any applicable policies relating to records.
A single staff member/volunteer cannot file multiple grievances relating to the same incident or underlying facts. Unless the facts become known after the grievance is filed, all relevant facts should be included in the grievant’s initial filing.
The grievant may agree to terminate a grievance after it has been initiated.
A – Confidentiality
To the extent possible, the BOD, TRCM, & GC will protect the confidentiality of grievants, witnesses and accused parties and, if information is disclosed, will disclose it on a need‐to‐know basis. However, it is important to understand that:
- To investigate the matter, provide the other party with notice of the underlying allegations, and give an opportunity for the accused to respond, the BOD, TRCM, & GC may need to reveal the identity of the grievant and relevant witnesses; AND
- Staff members/volunteers, event attendees, and law enforcement officials have rights under federal or state law to review and inspect records relating to an investigation.
For purposes of public records requests and to the extent allowed by law, the BOD, TRCM, & GC will treat all materials submitted during an investigation with confidentiality and will protect the information of the individuals involved within reasonable expectation of privacy.
B – Time Limit
A staff member/volunteer must file a grievance no later than 90 calendar days from when they knew or reasonably should have known about the incident or problem giving rise to the grievance. If they are actively engaged in finding an informal resolution to the grievable matter, then they may petition the TRCM for an extension to allow the attempt at informal resolution to run its course. If they fail to observe the time limits established for any step, the grievance will be considered satisfactorily resolved.
C – Grievance Steps
The grievance steps are not judicial in nature. At each step of the grievance process, a staff/volunteer may bring a support person with them to the grievance meeting. The support person’s role is limited to asking clarifying questions and helping the aggrieved understand the process. The support person may not interfere with the process or delay it.
- A staff member/volunteer will submit a written grievance to the TRCM. The grievant must indicate whether a meeting with the other party is requested within their written grievance.
- The TRCM will present the grievance to the other parties involved.
- If either party feels that any member of the TRCM has a conflict of interest in hearing the grievance, they may consult with the BOD chair to ask to move to the step 2 in the process. Skipping step 1 is at the BOD chairs discretion and their decision is final.
- If a meeting is requested, an in-person or skype meeting will be scheduled within 30 days of the submitted written grievance. If for any reason, parties involved are not able to attend the meeting in the 30-day time frame, they must submit an extension letting the other parties know when they will be available to meet. A written response TRCM will be sent to the grievant’s preferred method of contact within 7 days after meeting.
- If a meeting is not requested, a response will be sent within 30 days of receiving the written response.
- Any disposition of a grievance will not constitute a past practice or any precedent for the disposition of other grievances.
- If either party is unhappy with the decision made, they can present a new written grievance specific ONLY to the decision within 14 days of being notified of said decision to have it be reviewed by the GC. The grievance must indicate whether a meeting with the GC is requested.
- The GC or designee will acknowledge receipt of the grievance within 7 days and outline applicable timelines for additional meetings and grievance responses.
- If a meeting is requested, the GC or designee will meet either in person or via skype within 30 days of receipt of the written grievance. If for any reason, parties involved are not able to attend the meeting in the 30-day time frame, they must submit an extension letting the other parties know when they will be available to meet. The GC will send a decision in writing to the grievant’s preferred method of contact within 30 days of that meeting.
- If a meeting is not requested, the GC will send a response within 45 days of receipt of the written grievance.
- If either party is still not satisfied with the most recent decision made, they can present the written grievance within 14 days to be reviewed directly by the BOD. The grievance must indicate whether a meeting with the BOD is requested.
- Within 7 days, the BOD Secretary (or their designee) will acknowledge receipt of the grievance and outline applicable timelines for meetings and grievance responses.
- If a meeting is requested, the BOD Secretary (or their designee) will either in person or via skype within arrange for a meeting within 45 days of receipt of the written grievance. The BOD Chair will send a decision in writing within 30 days following that meeting. If a meeting is not requested, the BOD Secretary will send a decision in writing within 60 days of receipt of the written grievance.
- The BOD’s decision is binding. There will be no further appeals once they have made their decision.
This concludes the formal grievance process, and there are no further internal reviews or procedures. Prior to initiating court action against the SDN BOD based on the BOD’s failure to comply with its own policies, procedures or rules, staff members/volunteers must exhaust this grievance process. This rule does not apply to claims relating to prohibited discrimination.
D – Retaliation
Staff members/volunteers who engage in the process outlined above are protected from retaliation. That means that the TRMC, GC, and the SDN BOD nor its members as individuals can take an adverse action against them because they engaged in this process. Further, staff members/volunteers may not retaliate against anyone who participates, or is believed to have participated, in any stage of the grievance process.
Written by Brooke Newman and Rachel Gardner