Concern and Conflict Resolution Process

9-1-1 is the primary number to report an emergency in progress including a threat of violence or a suspicious incident.
Staff should notify their supervisor as soon as it is safe to do so.

From time to time employees will face workplace concerns and conflicts. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Co-worker to co-worker conflicts
  • Employee-supervisor conflicts
  • Discrimination
  • Benefits [including Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Disability, Tuition Waiver]
  • Employment status (resignation, termination, etc.)

University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMaine Extension) is committed to maintaining a positive working environment for all employees. This information is to inform employees of the people, offices and processes available to assist with resolving workplace concerns and conflicts.

Many concerns or conflicts can be resolved by a direct conversation between the people involved. Realizing that direct resolution is not always possible or does not always result in a solution, the Concern or Conflict Resolution Process is the recommended next step.

The goal of the UMaine Extension Employee’s Concern and Conflict Resolution Process is to seek the earliest possible resolution that is acceptable to everyone involved.

Initial Steps:

In most cases employees should notify their supervisor of a workplace concern or conflict. If you do not feel comfortable or safe discussing the issue with your immediate supervisor, you may reach out to the following:

  • Your supervisor’s supervisor or the UMaine Extension Assistant Director of Employee Engagement and Human Resources, Beth Hawkyard;, 207-581-2892. If you are more comfortable connecting with a different member of the Extension Leadership Team (ELT), please don’t hesitate to. Beth or Angela Hart ( can provide their contact information.
  • You are also welcome to reach out to your mentor if you have one, or the DEI Coordinator, Alisha Targonski ( if either of these feels like the more appropriate route to you.

When sharing a concern or conflict within UMaine Extension, please take some time to write down and/or gather the following:

  • Describe the problem in detail (using names, dates, times, locations, etc.),
  • Provide documentation (if available and appropriate), and
  • Share what solution or outcome you would like to occur.

You may also seek support from the following university departments or offices (links and contact information shared below):

Next Steps:

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 conflict, or who need to know that a concern or conflict has been expressed.

In most cases, it will be necessary for contact to be made with others who are involved for a concern or conflict to be resolved. This contact may or may not include a meeting with all involved or separate meetings with everyone involved/affected. UMaine Extension or University of Maine System (UMS) staff will not take any action that the employee expressing the concern or conflict does not agree to unless the UMaine Extension or UMS staff assisting the employee is required to do so by law or contractual obligation.

Every effort will be made to protect the employee from retaliation. Retaliation is an illegal and serious offense. The employee(s) can also expect follow-up meetings within six (6) weeks to six (6) months as needed to assess the success of the agreed-upon action(s) and to check in to be sure that no retaliation has taken place. If retaliation does occur, the employee affected shall contact the UMaine Extension or UMS staff they have been working with so that further steps in the action/safety plan can be revised and implemented.

Defining Roles/Responsibilities:

Within UMaine Extension:

Click on chart for descriptive text and to view an enlargement.
Click on chart for descriptive text and to view an enlargement. – UMaine Extension Graphic

Employees can seek further assistance if their concern or conflict is not resolved, and may request a follow-up meeting if one has not already been scheduled. Employees are encouraged to refer back to this Concern and Conflict Resolution Process and self-advocate when working with assisting parties. If assisting parties are unaware of and/or are not honoring this Concern and Conflict Resolution Process, the employee can seek assistance at a higher level than the initial report (for example, if the supervisor is not acting upon the report, the supervisor’s supervisor could be next), until a resolution is found.

Supervisors have a responsibility to listen to and implement an action/safety plan when an employee shares concerns or conflicts within the workplace. It is also necessary to ensure that the concern or conflict is addressed and resolved. If the concern is not resolved, it is important to connect and refer the employee to others within UMaine Extension or UMS who are able to provide assistance and/or resolution. Supervisors shall stay informed of the Concern and Conflict Resolution Process.

The Extension Assistant Director of Employee Engagement, Beth Hawkyard, can provide advice, facilitate or guide conversations, and/or connect and refer you to the appropriate person or entity so that a solution can be attained.

Please also see information regarding the Volunteer and Client Incident Reporting Process to address concerns and conflicts involving volunteers and clients in public-facing programs. We ask that employees submit a report on the incident via this Google Form. This form will allow supervisors and administrators to be aware of, have an account of, and support the staff members experiencing incidents that affect their ability to carry out their job and program activities.

Common Scenarios and University Departments or Offices to Contact:

To report an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Questions or concerns about non-emergency workplace health and safety:

Contact: Contact your supervisor and Safety Management (SM), 207.581.4055

Non-emergency workplace health and safety concerns should be addressed with your supervisor and UMS Safety Management.

Questions or Concerns about Employment Practices or Laws:

Contact: The Office of Human Resources (HR), 207.581.1581

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.

Contact: The UMS Employee Benefits Center, 207.973.3373 or, for questions regarding the following:

  • Health Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
  • Short-Term Disability
  • Retirement Plan
  • Tuition Waiver
  • Long-Term Disability
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Vacation and Sick Leave

Questions or Concerns about Mental Health Access or Information:

Contact: The Employee Assistance Program (EAP), 877.622.4327

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 and run through Cigna, the UMS insurance provider.

Employee Discrimination or Harassment Information or Concerns:

Contact: The Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EO), 207.581.1226

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 can request assistance and/or a copy of the complaint procedure(s).

Policy Manual – Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence, Stalking and Retaliation and Title IX Sexual Harassment

UMaine Union Members Info or Grievance Procedures:

Contact: Your union representative(s) as listed on the UMaine Labor Relations Website

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

Updated March 2024