Human Resources

Complaint resolution

Wherever people are gathered together there is the potential for interpersonal conflict. The conflict may be caused by personality differences, miscommunication, or behaviors that violate University policy such as discrimination or harassment.

Though we encourage you to handle interpersonal conflict by speaking directly to the other individual as your first course of action, sometimes you may need support in resolving a situation. The University offers several options for help.

Who can help

The following individuals and offices offer conflict resolution support. You may choose whichever option you are most comfortable with. Please note that some offices deal with only specific types of complaints. When you seek help, be prepared to offer specific details about the time, date, and events related to the concerning behavior.

Your supervisor or department HR administrator

Your supervisor may be the person closest to the issue and therefore able to take the quickest action to resolve your complaint. If your supervisor is part of the conflict, consider going up the supervisory chain in your departmental leadership.

Department responsibility: Departments must partner with UW Human Resources when they become aware of any complaints alleging a violation of Executive Order 31, the University policy that prohibits discrimination, harassment and retaliation that involves staff or academic student employees. Please contact your HR consultant in advance of beginning any investigation.

Your HR consultant

Contact your HR consultant if your supervisor was not able to effectively resolve the complaint, if issues with your supervisor are part of your complaint, or if you simply prefer assistance from someone outside your unit.

Civil Rights Investigation Office

The Civil Rights Investigation Office investigates complaints that an employee has violated the University’s nondiscrimination and nonretaliation policies. Contact the Civil Rights Investigation Office if you think you have been a victim of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.

Title IX Coordinator

Contact the Title IX Coordinator for concerns or inquiries regarding Title IX violations, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, indecent exposure, relationship violence, stalking, and domestic violence. The Civil Rights Investigation Office or your HR consultant are also options for these types of complaints.

ADA Coordinator

Contact the ADA Coordinator with concerns or inquiries regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Civil Rights Investigation Office or your HR consultant are also options for these types of complaints.

Office of Ombud

The Office of Ombud offers you a collaborative and confidential place to discuss work challenges. The Ombud will not conduct investigations but can help you assess complaint resolution options and navigate University resources.

Retaliation protection

University policy prohibits retaliation against people who bring a complaint or participate in the complaint process. An employee who engages in retaliatory conduct is subject to appropriate corrective action, including dismissal.

Use of work time

You may use work time to participate in the complaint process as long as both of the following apply:

  • It is a reasonable amount of time.
  • You have notified appropriate administrative personnel in your unit prior to taking the time.


If you are concerned about confidentiality, you should discuss your concern early in your exploration of resolution options.

The University strives to limit information about complaints to those with a business need to know. However, public records law and some legal processes may require the University to disclose certain University records. Allegations of serious misconduct (such as theft or discrimination, including sexual harassment) must be reported to the appropriate authority.

Responsibility to cooperate

University employees are required to participate, provide information as requested, and otherwise fully cooperate with the complaint process.

Situations involving complaints of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation require a greater degree of responsibility in that every University employee is:

  • Required to report any complaint of discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment, or retaliation that they receive.
  • Encouraged to report any inappropriate, discriminatory, or retaliatory workplace behavior they observe.

Additional resources

APS 46.3 Resolution of Complaints Against University Employees

Executive Order No. 31 Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action

Contact WA Employee Assistance Program (WA EAP) if you are a benefits-eligible employee and would like to speak with a mental health professional about how to deal with stress or handle work-related problems. The WA EAP also offers guidance and coaching for supervisors to help them effectively resolve conflict.

If you are concerned about potential workplace violence, report your concern as soon as possible to your supervisor and to SafeCampus.