Complaint & Grievance Process (FAIR)

Fast and Impartial Resolution (FAIR) Complaint and Grievance Process

Affirmitive Action and Equity Office


The University offers a Complaint and Grievance policy and a process for pursuing either or both via the FAIR process (Fast and Impartial Resolution). This process provides a method for the fair and equitable resolution of complaints, misunderstandings, and grievances for University employees.

Employees may have concerns about work situations which they consider to be unfair or they may feel University policies and procedures are being inequitably applied to them. Ideally employees are able to discuss and resolve these concerns with their supervisors. However, if concerns remain unresolved, employees are encouraged to utilize FAIR as a formal approach to problem resolution. By working cooperatively to resolve issues as they arise, employees and other involved parties can improve and enhance the work environment within the University community.

What are the options under FAIR?

There are two components to FAIR:

  1. The COMPLAINT process provides the opportunity for employees to have work-related problems heard and considered in a non-adversarial manner; and
  2. The GRIEVANCE process provides the opportunity for employees to resolve alleged violations of University, University System, and/or Board of Trustees policies.

These are two distinct but related processes established for the purpose of resolving work-related problems and/or misunderstandings. Eligible faculty and staff may use either procedure solely and separately, or may use the complaint procedure as the first step of the grievance procedure. FAIR is designed to assist faculty and staff in resolving problems to the mutual satisfaction of all involved in a neutral environment.

Are there advantages to first filing a Complaint instead of a Grievance?

A Complaint may be filed instead of, or as the first phase of, the Grievance Process. The Complaint process:

  • may serve as a less formal process than the grievance procedure for resolving work-related problems
  • offers facilitation as the primary problem resolution process….talking the issue out with the assistance of a third-party facilitator
  • is fast -- it allows parties to resolve issues quickly
  • has an expectation of confidentiality insofar that it is reasonable within legal requirements and organizational responsibilities. Complaint information shall be kept in a confidential file in Human Resources (HR), and it will be accessible only to those individuals engaged in the complaint process and appropriate administrators with an official need to know.
  • provides equal opportunity for involved parties to share concerns and issues
  • allows parties to create their own problem resolution
  • may be brought forward at any time. However, in order for the complaint to continue into the grievance procedure, the complaint must be filed within the 10-day time line as defined under "Complaint process" below.

How does the Complaint process work?

  • An eligible faculty or staff member may register a complaint by notifying their HR Partner of the complaint and indicating a desire to pursue a solution. If the employee wishes this complaint to meet the deadline for filing a grievance, the FAIR notice form must be completed and submitted to HR by 4:30 p.m. of the tenth calendar day from the day on which the employee became aware of the action which caused the complaint or the alleged policy violation and within one year of its occurrence.
  • After considering the nature of the complaint, the HR Partner will initiate discussion with the goal of resolution of the issue. Options to pursue resolution will include, but not be limited to, discussions with the supervisor, informal investigation of facts, and/or use of a third party to help facilitate between the complainant and the decision-maker (respondent).
  • If the option selected does not result in a satisfactory resolution of the complaint, the HR Partner may, as appropriate, require any of the following: a report from the investigator of the facts of the case; a report from the facilitator about the potential solutions; a report from the supervisor about the reasons that no resolution or settlement was reached. Human Resources will establish the appropriate time frame on any report or follow up on reports required.
  • If the complaint also qualifies as a grievance, a faculty or staff member may file a written grievance within the 10-day deadline described above. Human Resources will determine the point at which the complaint process has ended. If the complaint continues as a grievance, the grievance will continue at Step I or II as appropriate (see below).

Under what circumstances would I file a Grievance?

A grievance is a written statement alleging a violation of UNH, University System, or Board of Trustees policy. The grievance process is available to employees as a mechanism to resolve alleged violations. The grievance procedure shall not be used to review the substantive merits of an administrative judgment, performance evaluation, or other discretionary act or decision, except as may be necessary when a violation of a non-discrimination policy is alleged.

Status faculty and staff members are eligible to file a grievance, with the exception of faculty covered under the collective bargaining agreement and principal administrators. Staff members in the initial introductory period of employment are excluded from using the grievance procedure to appeal termination for the inability to meet requirements of the position.

What is the process for filing a Grievance and what is the time line?

The grievant completes a FAIR form which includes a written statement of the grievance, and submits it to UNH Human Resources. The statement will include the specific policy or policies alleged to be violated and a brief statement of the alleged violation and the resolution desired.

The deadline for filing a grievance with Human Resources shall be ten (10) calendar days from the day on which the aggrieved employee becomes aware of the action that is alleged to violate policy and within one year of its occurrence.

The filing of a grievance shall not affect the rights of an employee to seek any remedy which may be available in an external forum and does not postpone any deadlines for pursuing remedies in an external forum.

What are the FAIR Process Steps?

Where can I find UNH and USNH policies relative to the Complaint and Grievance Process?

For additional information, view the UNH / USNH online policy manuals or call Human Resources at 862-0544.