Changes Made in Policies for Managing Disputes, Harassment Complaints

Changes are result of independent review requested by President Richard Brodhead

Duke has amended its policies related to managing disputes and harassment complaints for staff employees to further enhance their confidence in the fairness of the grievance process.

The changes result from an independent review requested by President Richard Brodhead earlier this year, and conducted by Charlene Moore Hayes, a senior human resources executive at Johns Hopkins University.

Effective immediately, the following changes are in effect:

  • The final decision on disputes not involving termination, or claims of harassment or discrimination, will now be made by an officer outside the departmental unit.  Currently that decision is made by the department head’s supervisor.
  • In disputes between employees and supervisors that cannot be resolved at the local level and go to an external arbitrator, separate Staff and Labor Relations representatives will be assigned to give procedural advice to the employee and the supervisor.  Currently the same person may assist both parties, which could create a perceived lack of impartiality.
  • The Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) will clarify in its policy that it is empowered to initiate investigations where it has a compelling reason to believe that an individual has engaged in harassment, even absent a complaint from an employee.

These policies apply to all Duke University staff who are not otherwise covered by a collective bargaining agreement.  The faculty and student grievance processes remain unchanged.

The independent review found that “Duke University has gone to great lengths in an effort to ensure that employees are treated fairly,” and cited the extensive and thorough process for addressing disputes in which termination could be a result, including Duke’s practice of using an arbitrator selected by the employee and paid for by the university.