Concern Resolution Process

From time to time employees will face a workplace concern. Examples include worker to co-worker or employee to supervisor conflicts, discrimination, benefits or employment status. Cooperative Extension is committed to maintaining a positive working environment for all employees. This web page has been created to inform employees of the people, offices and processes available to assist with resolving a workplace concern. This document also clarifies the rights and responsibilities of those who are working toward a solution.

The goal of the UMaine Extension Employee’s Concern Resolution Process is to seek the earliest possible resolution that is acceptable to everyone involved. Many concerns can be resolved by a direct dialogue between the people involved. Realizing that this is not always possible and does not always result in a solution, the Concern Resolution Process is the recommended next step.

In most cases employees should notify their supervisor of a workplace concern. If you do not feel comfortable discussing the concern with your immediate supervisor, you may contact your supervisor’s supervisor or the UMaine Extension Assistant Director for advice. As the flow chart below illustrates, you may also contact the UM Employee Assistance Program, UM Office of Equal Opportunity, UM Human Resources, UM Environmental Health & Safety, UM Public Safety (and/or your local police) or your union.

When bringing a concern forward, WITHIN Cooperative Extension, you should attempt to clearly articulate the problem, provide documentation, if appropriate, and be able to state what resolution you are seeking. If an investigation is necessary, it will be conducted as confidentially as possible. Consultation with and involvement of other employees or supervisors will be limited to those who may have information relevant to the concern, or who need to know that a concern has been expressed. In most cases it will be necessary for contact to be made with others who are involved in order for a solution to be possible. This contact may or may not include a meeting with all involved or separate meetings with all parties. Assisting parties will not take an action that the employee does not agree to, unless there are legal or contractual reasons for the assisting party to do otherwise.

Every effort will be made to protect the employee from retaliation. Proven retaliation will be treated as a serious offense. The employee should also expect a follow-up meeting within six (6) months to assess the success of the agreed-upon action(s) and to check to be sure that no retaliation has taken place. If this does not occur, the employee should contact the assisting party so that this follow-up can be scheduled.

Defining Roles/Responsibilities:

Within UMaine Cooperative Extension:

diagram defining roles in the concern resolution process
Click on the chart to view an enlargement.

Employees should attempt to clearly articulate the problem, provide documentation, if appropriate, and state the resolution that they are seeking. They should seek further assistance if their concern is not resolved, and should request a follow-up meeting if one has not been scheduled. They should take steps to ensure that assisting parties are aware of and are honoring this Concern Resolution Process.

Supervisors have a responsibility to hear and act upon employee concerns. It is also necessary to ensure that the concern is resolved. If the concern is not resolved, it is important to refer the employee to others who are able to provide assistance.

The Extension Assistant Director can provide advice mediation and / or refer you to the appropriate person or entity so that a solution can be attained.

Within Other University Departments or Offices:

Safety and Environmental Management (SEM)Safety Management (SM) Mission will respond to situations where the health and safety of a UMaine employee is at risk. SEM provides services to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for all members of the University. Call 581.4055.

The Department of Public Safety – The Department of Public Safety should be contacted by calling 581.4040 or 911 whenever violence is threatened or inflicted against UMaine students or employees while on University property or on University business. If violence is threatened or inflicted in a County office, contact the local police department. Such behavior should also be reported to your supervisor immediately.

The Office of Human Resources (HR) – The Office of Human Resources (HR) assures that employment practices comply with federal and state employment laws, promotes equitable treatment of all employees, administers payroll/benefits and workplace policies and/or plans. Call 581-1581.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a short-term counseling and referral service designed to help active and retired UMaine faculty, full and part-time staff, and their immediate family members who are having personal or work-related problems. EAP is voluntary, confidential, and free. Call 1.877.622.4327.

The Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EO) – The Office of Equal Opportunity (EO) deals with complaints of discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, or citizenship status, age, disability, or veterans status. EO has an established formal and informal complaint procedure. You may call the EO at 581.1226 to obtain a copy of the complaint procedure or to request assistance.

Union membership provides members with grievance representation with regard to wage, salary and benefits violations. There are six (6) unions representing University employees.

Collective Bargaining Agreements