Procedure for Resolving Employee Workplace Complaints


This document describes the procedure for resolving employee workplace complaints. The procedure recommends direct communication with the supervisor to resolve problems. A formal review process has also been established for instances where informal communication is not possible or practical.

This document sets forth the applicability, Research Foundation policy, definitions, procedure, and responsibilities for implementation.


This procedure is available to all current and former employees of the Research Foundation. Fellows and independent contractors are not covered by this procedure; in the case of contractors, individual contractual agreements will cover disputes.

Allegations of discrimination are subject to a Research Foundation procedure, "Resolving Allegations of Discrimination."

Where a complaint involves an issue such as misconduct in science or conflict of interest, which is subject to review under established campus guidelines, those guidelines and not this complaint procedure must be followed.

Policy Statement

The Research foundation of State University of New York is committed to protecting the legitimate interests of its employees. Employees should not be subjected to violation, misrepresentation or improper application of any laws, rules, procedures, regulations, administrative orders of work rules of the Research Foundation directly affecting the terms and conditions of employment.

It is Research Foundation policy to attempt to resolve problems that arise in the course of employment quickly and fairly.

No complainant will be retaliated against or treated adversely by reason of initiating a complaint.

Decisions made in accordance with this policy and related procedure shall not add to, subtract from, or otherwise alter any other Research Foundation policies or practices.


The review process for employee complaints provides a means for an employee to clarify a situation, which the employee perceives as a violation of the terms and conditions of employment. The review and resolution may be carried out informally or may, at the employee's option, involve the filing of a written complaint.

Informal Resolution

Each supervisor and employee is encouraged to resolve on-the-job complaints in an atmosphere of mutual respect. An employee should bring any work-related problem to the attention of his/her immediate supervisor as soon as possible so the problem may be resolved. The supervisor should discuss with the employee those concerns in an effort to resolve the problem in a timely fashion.

If they wish, the employee and/or the supervisor may seek assistance in resolving problems from the Manager of the Complaint Procedure at the employing location.

Formal Resolution

The formal complaint procedure may be used at any time by an employee or former employee to request an investigation. The formal process provides for an employee filing a written complaint with the supervisor, for management review of the supervisor's decision, and for final review in an appeal process. Each complaint filed must be made in the name of an individual employee.

  1. Initial Written Complaint

    To initiate formal review, the employee must notify the supervisor in writing within forty (40) working days of the occurrence on which the complaint is based. A copy must be forwarded to the Manager of the Complaint Procedure.

    The written complaint should contain the following information:

    • Name and address of complainant (home or work);
    • Position;
    • Description in detail of the nature of the complaint;
    • The time and date when the basis for the complaint is alleged to have occurred;
    • The names and positions of all persons alleged to be involved in the complaint;
    • Other supporting material;
    • Date submitted;
    • Employee's signature.

    Within ten (10) working days after receiving the complaint, the employee's supervisor will confer with the employee to discuss the complaint. In addition, the supervisor may make additional inquiry regarding the complaint

    Within ten (10) working days after conferring with the employee, the supervisor will render a decision in writing, furnishing a copy to the employee and to the Manager of the Complaint Procedure. If the employee accepts the supervisor's decision in writing, the complaint is resolved. If the supervisor does not render a decision on a complaint within the prescribed time limit, the complaint is deemed denied, and the employee may ask for a review at the next supervisory level.

  2. Review of Supervisor's Decision

    If the employee is dissatisfied with the supervisor's decision, a review of the decision by the next supervisory level may be requested by the employee. If the immediate supervisor is the Project Director, Fiscal Designee, or an individual reporting to the Chief Administrative Officer the review of the supervisor's decision will be at the appeal level.

    The employee must submit a signed statement to the next supervisory or appeal level within ten (10) working days after the employee is informed of the supervisor's decision. The statement should explain why the employee feels the supervisor's decision should be overruled or modified. The employee must forward a copy of this statement to the Manager of the Complaint Procedure.

    The reviewer shall consider the employee's complaint and the immediate supervisor's decision, taking into account the initial formal complaint and all material submitted by the employee. The reviewer may make additional inquiry regarding the complaint.

    With twenty (20) working days after receiving a request for a review, the reviewer shall render a decision in writing to the employee with a copy to the supervisor and to the Manager of the Complaint Procedure.

  3. Appeal Process

    If the employee is dissatisfied with the review of the supervisor's decision, the employee must forward an appeal to the Manager of the Complaint Procedure within ten (10) working days. The appeal shall be in writing and include the reason(s) for the appeal. The Manager of the Complaint Procedure will notify the Chief Administrative Officer or designee that a timely appeal has been received. A copy of all complaints involving appeal reviews will be forwarded to the Research Foundation Office of Employee Relations.

    The location's designee or ad hoc review committee will conduct the appeal proceeding within fifteen (15) working days and, within twenty (20) working days after the conclusion of the proceeding, will render a final decision. A copy of the appeal decision will be forwarded to the Research Foundation Office of Employee Relations.

    The time limits specified in this complaint procedure will be observed and applied strictly and will not be extended without the prior written consent of the employee and the applicable level of supervision responsible for the review. If an employee fails to comply with any time limit, the complaint shall be deemed automatically withdrawn and the proceeding terminated.

Operating Locations Responsible

Research Foundation operating locations are responsible for ensuring that this procedure is implemented. Specific responsibilities are outlined below.

  • The Chief Administrative Officer is responsible for:
    • Implementing this procedure at the location;
    • Designating an individual or committee to consider appeals, steps to be followed, and notifications to be given.
  • The Fiscal Designee is responsible for:
    • Ensuring all Research Foundation employees at the campus and their supervisors are fully informed of policies and procedures for resolving complaints;
    • Designating a Manager of the Complaint Procedure.
  • The Employee is responsible for:
    • Timely submission of complaints under this procedure.
  • The Supervisor is responsible for:
    • Correcting work-related problems and seeking the help of appropriate offices or persons when necessary.
  • The Manager of the Complaint Procedure is responsible for:
    • Monitoring the complaint process to ensure that the time requirements of the procedure are met by all parties;
    • Helping employees evaluate options available to resolve misunderstandings or complaints on the job;
    • Advising employees of their recourse under the complaint procedure and making referrals to the Affirmative Action Officer in complaints alleging discrimination or to the appropriate campus officer(s) in cases of misconduct in science or conflict of interest;
    • Assisting supervisors in their obligations under the Foundation procedure by providing counsel and help in resolving problems in the workplace;
    • Ensuring all parties to the procedure are informed at each level of the procedure.

Contact Information

Office: Kehoe 815
Phone: (518) 564-2155
Fax: (518) 564-2157

Research Foundation at SUNY Plattsburgh
Kehoe 815
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901