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Policy 309 - Conflict Resolution

309. Conflict Resolution


According to its Statement of Purpose, Santa Clara University is dedicated to a community enriched by men and women of diverse backgrounds, respectful of difference and enlivened by open dialogue, caring and just toward others, and committed to broad participation in achieving the common good.

Santa Clara University recognizes that valid differences of opinions and interests will arise within a vibrant and dynamic working community. It is the responsibility of every member of that community to strive for effective communication and responsible decision making and the resolution of conflicts or disputes with reason, conscience, and compassion.


The purpose of this policy is to provide individual staff members with a process for resolving work-related conflicts. The emphasis of the Conflict Resolution Process ("Process") is on early identification and resolution of disputes with fair consideration of both sides of a conflict. Conflict resolution is seen as a partnership designed to meet some individual and shared needs, result in mutual benefits, and strengthen the relationship.

For the purposes of this document the words conflict, dispute, problem, and complaint will be used interchangeably.



All regular and fixed-term staff members who have successfully completed the introductory evaluation period are eligible to utilize the process. Faculty may choose to engage in this process in the event of a faculty/staff dispute. Students may be allowed to participate in the process in the event of a student/staff dispute. This policy does not apply to staff members of a bargaining unit represented by a union.


Conflict resolution addresses workplace problems, disputes, or complaints which claim a violation or misapplication of University policies, regularly followed practices, Statement of Purpose, Guiding Principles, or Fundamental Values.

Allegations or complaints of civil rights discrimination or related violations of public policy (e.g., whistleblowing) should be resolved according to processes specified by the University's policy on discrimination, discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment and other related compliance subjects (311) and also includes the option of access to neutral arbitration upon request of the staff member.


Individual attempts to resolve a conflict or dispute should begin within 15 calendar days of the decision, action, or event. Informal conflict resolution processes should begin within 45 calendar days of the event. Formal conflict resolution must be invoked within 90 calendar days of the event.


Information and Education: All staff, faculty, and students within the University community shall have access to information and are expected to participate in education. Information and education resources are designed to equip individual members of the community with the skills to develop and maintain effective working relationships in which conflict is addressed and resolved reasonably, constructively, and for the common good. It is the responsibility of all persons to acquire and demonstrate needed conflict resolution skills in their daily work and interactions within the University community. Each member of the community is empowered and encouraged to deal with conflict resolution at the time of the conflict. Many times a small problem will be successfully resolved immediately, rather than allowing it to fester and grow, resulting in a much bigger issue. Persons in conflict are encouraged to use their own skills and campus resources creatively to resolve conflict in a mutually satisfying way.

Conflict Resolution Resources (Informal Process): Issues which are not successfully and satisfactorily resolved at the source may benefit from resources available for informal discussion between the parties. The value of using the following resources to informally resolve conflict is that the parties work in partnership to arrive at and agree upon a mutually acceptable resolution.

  • Peer Counselors: Peer counselors are trained individuals available to meet with someone involved in a conflict to assist him or her to clarify issues and identify options.
  • Facilitators: Facilitators are trained persons available to meet with both parties involved in a conflict. The role of the facilitator is to aid communication and to help parties discover areas of commonality. The facilitator does not suggest solutions to conflict. Solutions come from and are agreed upon by the parties in conflict.
  • Mediators: Mediators are designated individuals trained to hear both parties in a conflict and to work with them to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. Mediators have the ability to propose solutions but no authority to implement them.

Conflict Resolution Process (Formal Process): At this point it is re-emphasized that the goal of this policy is for conflict to be resolved by mutual agreement at the level requiring the least amount of outside intervention. When individual and informal efforts have been unsuccessful in resolving conflict, one or both of the parties may request the formal review process which relies on third parties to determine solutions:

  • Supervisor Review: An employee should first seek formal problem resolution with the supervisor. (Note: This does not preclude a supervisor from functioning informally as a counselor, facilitator or mediator if trained and requested to do so.) An employee should submit the request in writing, documenting the dispute, identifying which policies or practices, principles or values were believed to have been violated, any attempts to resolve the conflict and the results, and setting forth a proposed remedy. If the dispute specifically involves the supervisor, the employee should address the problem with the next higher level of management. Supervisors and managers are strongly encouraged to resolve disputes within the department. The supervisor or higher level manager will document the issue, investigate the dispute and steps taken to attempt to resolve the problem, and make a decision on the outcome. A written response will be presented to the employee within 20 calendar days of the supervisor's receipt of the written request.
  • Human Resources Review: When either of the parties believes the problem has not been resolved through the Supervisor Review, either may present the dispute to the appropriate Human Resources representative. The representative will notify the other party that a dispute has been filed. The appropriate Human Resources representative will review the written response from the prior step and facilitate further communication about the dispute between the involved parties. The Human Resources representative will investigate the problem and attempt to resolve the complaint. A written response to the dispute will be given to both parties by the Human Resources representative within 20 calendar days of the date the dispute was filed, unless additional time is needed in which case both parties will be informed of the expected date of response.

Decisions at the Human Resources Review level are final.

No Retaliation: No adverse action may be taken against the individual bringing the complaint in good faith, or against any persons who furnish him or her with any assistance solely because of their involvement in the complaint.

Neutral Arbitration

If a conflict still exists beyond the Human Resources Review level, the staff member and the University may choose to participate in neutral arbitration. The staff member and the University will choose an arbitrator by mutual agreement. The arbitrator shall be a qualified professional labor/employment arbitrator. If the parties are unable to agree on the identity of the arbitrator, the staff member shall request a panel of names from JAMS-ENDISPUTE of Santa Clara County. The arbitrator shall be chosen from the given panel of names, by alternate striking of names, beginning with the University, until one arbitrator is left, who shall serve as arbitrator. The staff member and the University will execute a written stipulation designating the selected arbitrator to hear the dispute under the terms of this Policy. The arbitrator shall conduct hearings and issue a final and binding written decision, a copy of which will be delivered to the staff member and the University and/or their respective attorneys. The arbitrator will be authorized to award appropriate remedy under law as to the specific issues submitted; however, the arbitrator shall have no power to add to, subtract from, change, alter, or ignore the provisions of the Policy Manual or of any other University policy. The University shall be responsible for the professional fees of the arbitrator, unless the staff member objects, in which case the University and the staff member shall each be responsible for 5O% of the professional fees of the arbitrator


Employees and supervisors are responsible for maintaining appropriate confidentiality and for participating in the conflict resolution process outlined in this Policy. It is the responsibility of Human Resources to employ the means of resolution detailed in this Policy. Any dispute concerning procedures or standards under this Policy is to be resolved by the Chief Human Resources Officer. The University’s EEO and Title IX Coordinator is responsible for addressing issues of alleged civil rights discrimination (e.g., racial harassment, discriminatory harassment).


Contact Human Resources if you have questions about this policy or if you would like more information.

Policy Approved: October 23, 1998

Last Updated: May 2017

Last Reviewed: June 30 2022

Maintainer: Human Resources

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