Workplace Disputes

We recognize that workplace issues may arise; therefore, we provide support and services for work-related complaints regarding discrimination or harassment, as well as resources to assist in conflict management.

Conflict Management

When different ideas and interests collide, conflict is inevitable. When managed effectively, conflict can produce energy, creativity, and formulation of alternative ideas. At Georgia Tech, we hope that employees and managers can effectively manage conflict within their teams and departments. In order to do so, collaboration must occur between managers and employees. Once individuals collaborate to resolve conflict, strengths are recognized, alternative solutions emerge, trust is developed, and people become committed to a common goal and purpose.

To stimulate collaboration with managers or other colleagues with whom you may have a conflict, you can incorporate the following negotiation skills in order to reach a resolution:

  1. Determine the nature of the conflict
    • What exactly is the cause of your conflict with another employee? Is your conflict fact based or value based in nature? Make sure you are not allowing your own beliefs/values to cloud the true meaning of your dispute.
  2. Effectively initiate conversation
    • Ask your fellow colleague if you can discuss the issue with him or her. Remain calm, state the facts, and don’t attack the other person or become demeaning. State how the actions of the other person made you feel in a non-accusatory tone. Utilize “I feel” or “I believe” statements when at all possible.
  3. Listen to the others’ point of view
    • Actively listen to your colleague’s stance on the issue and be open to hearing what he or she has to say.
  4. Problem solve and collaborate as a team to reach a consensus
    • Together, try to find a viable solution for both parties following the steps below:
  • Clarify the problem as a team
  • Generate probable solutions
  • Decide as a team the best scenario that will benefit both parties
  • Develop a plan to implement your solution
  • Determine a time to reconvene to assess the success of your plan

Mediation

Faculty and classified staff are encouraged to seek an appropriate resolution to any conflict within the Institute through discussion with those persons and departments that may be involved. If this does not resolve the conflict, the parties are urged to seek the assistance of an informal mediation process. The Institute supports the practice of administrators, faculty, and staff who consider having their disputes resolved through the mediation process prior to filing for formal proceedings.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process through which a trained neutral facilitates settlement discussions between parties. The neutral has no authority to make a decision or to impose a settlement upon the parties. The neutral attempts to focus the attention of the parties upon their needs and interests rather than upon rights and positions. The mediation process is voluntary, confidential, private, and privileged.

Who Administers a Mediation?

Mediations are administered through the Ombuds Program, which is a confidential, neutral, informal, and independent conflict resolution and management resource open to assist any member of the Georgia Institute of Technology community.

Why should employees seek mediation?

Mediation is a free and confidential service. Ombudsmen are fair and neutral – the ombuds will not declare an employee innocent or guilty, but will help lead employees toward greater clarification of the issue. Ombuds can speak individually with employees or assist as a third party between two employees, thus helping them reach a mutually beneficial resolution. Mediation improves communication, as both parties can openly discuss their opinions in a non-threatening, confidential setting. Participating in mediation can help save time and energy. By seeking assistance from a third party, the issue may be resolved in half the time and both parties can return to a happier workplace environment.

Harassment and Discrimination

What constitutes harassment?

Discriminatory harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed against any person or group that is based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status and that has the purpose or effect of creating an offensive, demeaning, or intimidating environment for that person or group of persons. Sexual harassment is inappropriate sexually oriented behavior or unwanted sexual attention of a persistent or offensive nature that sufficiently interferes with an employee’s job performance or a student’s status in an academic course, program, or activity. Examples of sexually harassing behavior can be found in Georgia Tech’s Anti-Harassment Policy.

How do I file a complaint?

Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to communicate effectively, to treat each other with respect, and to resolve complaints as quickly as possible. However, any employee or student who believes he or she has been subjected to discriminatory and/or harassing behavior may have his or her complaints addressed through the Institute’s official complaint process. View Complaint Policy.

How can I prevent discrimination and sexual harassment from occurring?

The Office of Human Resources has developed two courses in which employees can participate to raise awareness and education regarding discrimination and harassment.

  • Preventing Workplace Discrimination is a course designed for supervisors to understand ways they can prevent discrimination in the workplace. This interactive course provides insight on techniques to ensure equitable employment practices and addresses Georgia Tech's complaint and grievance process.
  • The Preventing Sexual Harassment training course aims to inform all Georgia Tech employees about the types of sexual harassment and the Institute's policy prohibiting sexual harassment. The course also highlights ways to resolve complaints and provides proactive and preventative approaches to eliminating inappropriate behavior.

Contact the Consultancy unit for departmental training sessions, or check the Master Training Calendar for the next general course and registration information.

EthicsPoint Hotline

EthicsPoint is an online portal that allows employees to report incidents that are against company policy without fear of jeopardizing their career. It enables organizations to foster a business culture of integrity and compliance.

Grievances and Appeal Process

For regular employees when disputes cannot be resolved through the normal administrative channels of the Institute.

How do I file an appeal?

If you have been suspended without pay or terminated, you must first seek an acceptable administrative resolution in writing within five (5) working days of the incident through one administrative level above the level of the supervisor who took the original employment action.

If a satisfactory resolution is not achieved, you have within five (5) working days of notification by next level management to request an appeal. Such a request must be made in writing, on the appropriate form, to the Director of Employee Relations in the Office of Human Resources (“OHR”) with documented proof of the denial. Failure to follow these steps will constitute a waiver of the right to appeal.

When will I have my hearing?

OHR will make every effort to schedule a hearing date within thirty (30) to forty-five (45) working days from the time you officially appeal to Employee Relations. No hearing for any reason will be scheduled later than sixty (60) working days from the time you submit a written appeal to Employee Relations. The failure to appear for a scheduled hearing within that time constitutes a waiver of the right to appeal.

What is a briefing?

The briefing is an opportunity to learn about the hearing process and to ask any questions. You will need to provide the names of your witnesses, if you have any, and any documentation (exhibits). A list of witnesses and copies of documentation must be submitted to Employee Relations at least one (1) week in advance of the hearing date.

How do I prepare for the hearing?

The briefing is an opportunity to learn about the hearing process and to ask any questions. You will need to provide the names of your witnesses, if you have any, and any documentation (exhibits). A list of witnesses and copies of documentation must be submitted to Employee Relations at least one (1) week in advance of the hearing date.

  1. Organize your case. Have one or two sentences that describe your case.
  2. Determine what you need to prove at the hearing.
  3. Think about what the other side is going to present and how you will respond.
  4. Prepare your witnesses if you have them (find out what information they have and how they can help you).
  5. Identify necessary documentation (exhibits) and how you will explain them.
  6. Plan what you are going to say. Write out your presentation if necessary.
 
What will I need to bring to the hearing?

You will need to inform your witness(es) of the date, time, and location of the hearing so they arrive on time. Employee Relations will bring copies of any approved documentation that you previously submitted.

Can I bring a lawyer?

You cannot have an attorney present during the hearing unless you are being charged with a crime. If you receive approval to have an attorney present because of pending criminal charges, then Georgia Tech will also have a legal representative at the hearing.

What happens after the hearing?

The appropriate Institute official will inform you of the Institute decision and advise of any further right to appeal.

Where can I find additional information on appeals?

Staff appeal policies may be found in our HR Policy Manual.

Who do I contact if I have questions regarding the staff appeal process?

For appeals, please contact Thomas Vance at 404.894.3249.