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Staff Discrimination Grievance Procedure

These procedures have been copied from the Staff Handbook found on the Human Resources website as of May 12, 2009. To see all grievance procedures for staff, click here.

Under normal circumstances, the time frames referred to herein should be followed. Any change in these timeframes must be authorized by the EO Officer in consultation with all involved parties. These timeframes do not include days when the College is not open for normal operations or days when either the grievant or the respondent are unavailable due to illness or previously scheduled time away.

Step 1. Seek Informal Resolution Within Thirty Days

If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment because of any legally prohibited or College recognized factor such as age, race, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, pregnancy status, or veteran status - you may discuss the concern with the perceived offender or your supervisor, if you are comfortable doing so.

If you are not comfortable speaking with the perceived offender or your supervisor, or you have done so and have received an unfavorable result, you should contact the equal opportunity officer within thirty days of the last action believed to have been discrimination. The equal opportunity officer will be able to answer questions and help facilitate an informal resolution of the concern.

Depending on the nature and severity of your concern, the equal opportunity officer will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation which may require collecting and analyzing data and/or speaking with others. The equal opportunity officer will submit findings of the investigation and any recommendations to you and the supervisor, with copies to other managers as appropriate.

The equal opportunity officer may suggest informal methods of resolution which may involve, but are not limited to, any one or more of the following: a meeting of the parties, mediation, counseling, training, or disciplinary action.

Step 2. Review by Respondent's Supervisor

If informal methods to resolve the concern were unsuccessful and you wish to file a grievance, submit a Request for Formal Review to the equal opportunity officer. The Request for Formal Review serves as your written complaint. This form is available from the equal opportunity officer who can also provide assistance in completing it.

A copy of the Request for Formal Review will be given to the alleged offender ("respondent"). Other copies will be distributed to the respondent's direct supervisor and the next level of management.

Within five days of receiving the completed Request for Formal Review, the EO officer will arrange a meeting between the complainant and the respondent's supervisor. If the complainant wishes, the EO officer can attend the meeting to facilitate the discussion. The complainant's support person may also attend.

Within ten days following the meeting, the supervisor must provide the complainant with a written response analyzing the issues at hand and determining whether any actions are warranted. A copy must also be given to the equal opportunity officer. You may appeal the decision of the supervisor to a grievance review panel by notifying the equal opportunity officer in writing within five days.

Step 3 . Review by Grievance Review Panel

A Grievance Review Panel normally will be convened within 10 days of receipt of your request for appeal. If the grievance involves termination of employment, every effort will be made to expedite the review process. A panel consists of three Swarthmore College employees who will hear the grievance. There are additional guidelines to forming the grievance panel, which will be explained in detail by the equal opportunity officer at this stage in the process. The complainant may select one of the panelists, the supervisor of the respondent may designate one panelist, and those two panelists will select a third person, who serves on, and chairs, the panel. If the parties don't have anyone in mind to select as a panelist, the equal opportunity officer can provide a list of Swarthmore College staff and faculty members who are available to serve as panelists. The equal opportunity officer will give all panelists training on equal opportunity issues and the role of the panel before serving. The equal opportunity officer schedules and facilitates the meeting. The equal opportunity and employee relations officers serve as resources regarding College policy/practice, relevant employment and equal opportunity laws, and collect any information and documentation needed by the panel, but neither officer has a decision-making role.

At the panel review hearing, you will have the opportunity to explain to the panel why you believe the decision of the department is incorrect and why it should be modified or overturned. The department will have the opportunity to explain why the supervisor or manager took the action and why she/he thinks the action was appropriate and should be upheld. The panel may ask the EO officer to share findings of any investigation and any recommendations. The parties may each present a list of witnesses who are believed to have first-hand knowledge about the events giving rise to the action and who may support a party's case. The panel can decide whether it wishes to interview a proposed witness.

Within ten days following the completion of its hearing(s), the panel will submit a report of its findings and any recommendations to you and the respondent's supervisor. The respondent's supervisor will have five days to submit a response to the panel's report to you. A copy must also be given to the equal opportunity officer.
Either party may appeal the decision of the Grievance Review Panel to the president by notifying the equal opportunity officer in writing within five days.

Step 4 . Review and Final Decision by President

Review by the president will only be allowed on the grounds of significant procedural error or inadequate consideration, as assessed by the president. If the president deems the appeal appropriate, he or she will determine the method and depth of the review. The president will issue a written decision within a timely manner. Decisions of the president are final.

If the employee is not satisfied with the final decision of the president and wishes to pursue the matter further, she/he may request assistance from the equal opportunity officer in identifying appropriate state and federal agencies with which the employee may wish to consult.


Non-Retaliation Policy

Employees may use the procedures described below without fear of retaliation from supervisors or others against whom a complaint may be lodged. Retaliation against any member of the community for good faith participat ion in the procedures described below is a violation of College policy. Retaliation will not be tolerated and will be subject to College disciplinary procedures up to and including dismissal. Any violation of this policy should be reported to Human Resources, the EO officer or another appropriate College resource person immediately (e.g., associate vice president of Human Resources or vice president for College and Community Relations).


Good Faith Participation

The grievance process is dependent upon the willingness of all those involved to participate in good faith, whether as a complainant, respondent, witness or support person. Accordingly, it is expected that staff members will participate in the grievance procedure in an open, civil and respectful manner that is aimed at productive resolution. Should an employee be found to have knowingly and intentionally brought forward a false charge, provided false witness or in any other way knowingly and intentionally acts to thwart the grievance procedure process, they could be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.


Support Person

At any stage of the grievance process you may have a campus support person of your choice (a coworker, or another staff or faculty member) participate with you subject to her or his availability, in order to help you present your concern effectively and to provide you with moral support. Your support person is permitted, but not required, to speak on your behalf. If you don't have anyone in mind but would like a support person, the EO officer and ER manager have a list of staff and faculty members who are available to serve as staff advocates or support persons. Please note that, since these reviews are internal campus processes, the support person must be a Swarthmore College employee, rather than anyone from outside the College.



It is important to recognize that understanding the nature of the complaint and facilitating resolution typically requires speaking with others. The EO officer and/or employee relations manager will take this step only when necessary to resolve the complaint and only with those persons relevant to the resolution of the complaint.

It is presumed that all participants of a grievance (i.e., complainant, respondent, interviewees, witnesses, supervisors, support persons, members of the grievance panel, etc.) will maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings to ensure an unencumbered resolution process.