Inevitably, when addressing sensitive matters conflicts arise. The following procedures are intended to help resolve them. Unfortunately, the processes intended to relieve distress can themselves become sources of further anxiety and complaint if they are unclear or too complex. A settled procedure that is transparent and easily followed reduces anxiety and permits those involved to focus on the merits of the controversy with fewer distractions caused by procedural uncertainty.
The following procedures provide for both a formal grievance hearing procedure and an optional, informal mediation process that are intended to assist those seeking redress before the Board of Directors.
PCD CONFLICT RESOLUTION PROCEDURE
I. Grievance Procedure
A. Anyone believing themselves aggrieved by an act or decision of the PCD Board of Directors (Board), the conduct of a Board member or members, or by other contingencies, acts, or events within the responsibilities delegated to the Board by the UUA and PCD Bylaws, may bring their concerns to the Board for resolution by submitting a written grievance to the President setting forth in plain language the factual basis for the complaint and stating the remedy desired. The grievance may be transmitted to the President either by hard copy or electronic means.
B. Upon receipt, the President of the Board shall promptly cause a copy of the grievance to be distributed to all Board members and any person who may be implicated in the complaint.
1. If the grievance states a complaint against a person, in contrast to a dispute arising from an action or decision of the Board, the person against whom the grievance is directed shall have a reasonable time to review the stated allegations and to provide a response.
(a) Any response shall be in writing and directed to the Board with copies to the grievant, and may be delivered either by hard copy or electronic means.
(b) Responses shall be confined to information that rebuts the allegations raised in the grievance. To the extent that the respondent desires to present new information outside the scope of the initial grievance, such new information may be presented in the form of a counter grievance resting on its own merits and shall not be presented as argument intended merely to attack the validity of the original grievance or to cast aspersions upon the original moving party. The recipient of a counter grievance shall have the same opportunity to review and to respond to the matters stated there as is given to the initial respondent.
(1) After complying with section I, subdivisions A and B, 1, (a) and (b), at their option, grievants may notify the President of the Board of their desire to have the matter resolved informally through mediation, as described in Section II, below, and shall notify the respondent of their desire to mediate the dispute.
(2) If the respondent agrees to mediation, further formal action on the matter shall be suspended pending the outcome of the mediation process.
2. If the grievance is not directed against a person, but instead to an act, decision, policy of the Board, or other matter, anyone having relevant responsive information regarding the issues presented by the grievance may submit that information in the manner described in subdivision B. 1. (a).
(a) If it reasonably appears that the grievance presents issues requiring immediate action, the President may call a meeting of the Board, as provided in Article XV, Sec. 5 of the Bylaws, to address them by way of an expedited electronic meeting, otherwise the matter shall be added to the agenda of the next regularly scheduled meeting after the respondent, if any, has had an opportunity to reply, or other relevant, responsive information has been received.
(b) If the grievance sets forth allegations against an individual from which it is reasonably certain that urgent action by the Board is required to prevent harm to another person, property, or to other matters within the authority of the PCD Board of Trustees, the Board may, without delay, take whatever actions it deems necessary to prevent such harm from occurring prior to receiving information from the respondent.
3. After the Board has had a reasonable opportunity to review the grievance and any responses, it shall promptly tender a written tentative decision to all parties.
4. If any of the principle parties to the grievance, typically the grievant or the respondent, are not satisfied with the Board’s decision, they may request an opportunity to present the matter orally at the Board’s next meeting following the tentative decision.
(a) At any oral hearing of a grievance all persons having relevant knowledge of the subject matter of the grievance who wish to participate shall be heard. The Board may limit or deny the presentation of information that is irrelevant or overly repetitive of information already received.
(b) At the close of the oral hearing, the Board shall retire in closed session to confer and to determine whether the matter is ripe for decision or requires further investigation or discussion.
(c) If the Board determines that it has sufficient information to render a decision it shall deliver to the grievant, respondent, if any, and all other interested persons a written decision setting forth a full explanation of the matters decided.
(d) After the receipt of information at the oral hearing, if the Board determines that it requires further information before it can render a decision it shall inform the interested parties of that fact and provide them a reasonable time in which to submit such information to the Board.
5. Once a grievance has been submitted to the Board for action or decision, Board members shall not individually discuss the matters under consideration with the grievant, respondent, or other interested persons, except in formal session or as delegated to do so by the Board.
(a) Board members having personal knowledge of the subject matter of the grievance such that they could be considered a witness to matters in dispute or an advocate of the remedy sought by the grievant, shall make their involvement known to the Board and shall recuse themselves from further participation in the decision-making process, though they may present their information and views at any hearing of the matter.
(b) In the event that the grievance alleges matters such that it reasonably appears that the Board could not render a fair, impartial, and objective determination of the issues and decision on the merits of the controversy, it shall recuse itself and designate an ad hoc committee of disinterested persons acceptable to the Board and to all parties to act in its stead with regard to the grievance.
(1) A grievance that requests the Board to reconsider a previous action or decision taken in the regular course of its business, including a decision on a matter of policy, shall not require Board recusal unless the grievance also alleges, and by objective evidence makes a persuasive showing of a conflict of interest, unreasonable bias, or other improprieties in the making of the decision in question.
(2) An the absence of impropriety, a decision of the Board in response to a grievance requesting reconsideration of a previous decision or Board action may not be the subject of a subsequent grievance.
6. Informal Process. Grievants who wish to opt out of the formal grievance process may give notice of their intention to do so as provided at Section I, subdivision B, 1, (c).
A. If the grievance is directed toward another person or persons, upon receipt of a mediation request from the grievant, the President shall so inform the respondent(s) of the request for mediation.
1. If the respondent(s) agrees to mediation, the President shall invite the parties to select an individual agreeable to them to mediate their dispute.
2. If the parties cannot agree on a mediator, the President may nominate a member of the board or another person willing to meet with the parties to assist their search for an acceptable mediator.
3. If, after a reasonable number of attempts, the parties cannot agree on a mediator, the matter will be returned to the formal grievance process for further action.
B. If the subject matter of the grievance is directed at an event, decision, or act, and not a living person, the President, on behalf of the Board, shall select an individual possessing the knowledge and capacity to represent the responsive viewpoint for purposes of mediation. The person selected by the President shall then participate in the mediator selection process.
C. Once selected, the mediator shall arrange to meet with the grievant and any other person having information or knowledge of the relevant facts and circumstances bearing on the complaint.
1. If the mediation results in the successful resolution of the grievance, the mediator shall present a written report to the Board along with an assessment of the process employed and any recommendations for improvement, if any.
2. If the informal mediation does not resolve the grievance the mediator shall report that fact to the Board and, if the grievant elects to go forward, the matter shall be returned to the formal process for resolution by the Board.