Conflict Resolution Procedures

Informal complaints & dispute resolution

  1. An informal conflict resolution effort happens when a person seeks information, expresses their concern(s), engages the other party to the dispute in dialogue, and is able to resolve a dispute without recourse to a formal complaint.
  2. When disagreements arise, it is expected that the parties involved will attempt to speak with each other about their concerns. In addition to the following considerations, both parties in this conversation will use the DMG Code of Conduct as their guide for how to conduct themselves in discussing the dispute.

    • Choose a time and place to meet that is private and agreeable to both people
    • Allow a reasonable amount of time.
    • The meeting is not about one person “winning” and the other ”losing.” It is about coming to a mutual understanding. This takes patience and a willingness to listen to the other’s point of view and not to dismiss it as the “wrong” point of view.
    • Speak directly from how you feel/think or felt/thought, and speak directly to the issue. By using “I” Statements and “Active Listening” techniques you can avoid belittling the other person, or dismissing their thoughts or feelings.
    • Ideally you will be able to learn from the conversation how to avoid miscommunication and/or misunderstanding in future. Helpful questions to this end include, “If what I / you said or did came across like that, what should I / we do to guard against this happening again?”
  3. If step 2 does not work, the Complainant may ask for assistance, from the appropriate Responsible Contact Person (see below). This may be done orally or in writing.

    When communicating in writing the complainant will note in their correspondence that they are making an informal complaint and are communicating in order to get help to resolve it.

  4. Responsible Contact People for Informal Complaint:

    • Staff as Complainant – contact your immediate supervisor. If the respondent is the immediate supervisor, then contact the Executive Director (ED). If the immediate supervisor is both the ED and the Respondent, then staff will contact the staff liaison on the Conflict Resolution Committee
    • ED as Complainant – contact the Chair. If the Respondent is the Chair, then contact the staff liaison on the Conflict Resolution Sub-committee. If the Respondents involve multiple directors, the ED will contact the Internal Advisor.
    • Director as Complainant – contact the ED. If the respondent is the ED or Chair, then contact the Internal Advisor.
    • Member of the organization, or member of the public as Complainant - contact designated staff. If the Respondent is the designated staff, contact the ED. If the Respondent is the ED, then contact the Internal Advisor.
  5. If approached with an informal complaint, the Responsible Contact Person will inquire about any initial resolution efforts (as per 1.03), and will consult as needed with the Internal Advisor.

  6. Efforts will be made by the Responsible Contact Person to resolve the matter informally within the first two (2) weeks after the complaint is made.

    • The Responsible Contact Person will have a conversation with each party separately to: a) discuss their perspective on and interests engaged in the dispute, and; b) to review the internal informal dispute resolution methods available to them (as per 1.06.2).
    • Both parties will be invited to participate in processes such as informal meetings, negotiations, facilitated meetings, or shuttle or in-person mediation. If there is more than one Complainant or Respondent this may involve multiple, separate meetings. If one party refuses participation in either facilitated discussions or a mediation process, see 2.01.
    • Depending on their training and neutrality, either the Responsible Contact Person or the Internal Advisor will act as facilitator or mediator in the chosen process.
    • If the chosen process yields an acceptable informal outcome to both parties, the matter will be considered to be resolved.

Formal complaints and resolution

  1. If informal resolution efforts do not achieve an acceptable outcome in a timely fashion, or to the satisfaction of the Complainant, the Complainant may submit a written formal complaint. A formal complaint requires written submission.
  2. A formal, written complaint will be submitted to one of the Responsible Contact People below. The written complaint must include:

    • The Complainant’s name;
    • Detailed information about what the issue is, the Respondent’s name, what has taken place, where, and when;
    • Details of all prior efforts to achieve a resolution;
    • The specific outcome(s) the Complainant is seeking.
  3. Responsible Contact People for Formal Complaints:

  4. The Responsible Contact Person will immediately acknowledge to the Complainant the receipt of the complaint.
  5. The Responsible Contact Person will forward the complaint to the Internal Advisor (if not self) within one (1) week of receipt. The Internal Advisor will then proceed as follows:

    • The Internal Advisor will review the complaint to ensure all information is included as per 2.02 above, and that enough information is present to be able to assess the situation and respond. If not, the complainant will be advised.
    • The review will include assessing and making note of organizational by-laws, policies and codes that might have been violated.
    • If the issues raised by the complainant include matters that directly engage the Human Resources Policy, reports of harassment or discrimination based on protected grounds under the OHRC, or report incidents of Workplace Violence (as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act), the relevant policies and procedures will be followed. The Internal Advisor will immediately notify the designated contact people for those policies and procedures, and advise the Complainant of this. Immediate courses of action may include separation of parties and initiation of a third party investigation.

      The review may also include seeking advice from the Advisory Group or other external source of expertise. If formal complaints involve multiple Complainants or Respondents that are staff and/or directors, or are non-HR contract disputes, the Internal Advisor shall seek Advisory Group or external legal advice. Such complaints may then be referred to some form of external adjudication process.

  6. Within one (1) week of complaint receipt, the Internal Advisor will: (i) inform the Complainant that they have carried out an initial review of their complaint; (ii) provide the Complainant with a copy of this Policy; (iii) review the informal dispute resolution process, and; (iv) communicate additional information required, including:

    • Any referral of the complaint to a separate process, as per 2.05.1.
    • Available informal or assisted resolution options as set out in this Policy, section 1.
    • That processes in relation to this policy cannot result in an award of damages or compensation to the Complainant, Respondent, or anyone else;
    • That processes in relation to this policy may or may not result in disciplinary measures against the Respondent.
    • That the Respondent will receive a copy of the Complaint (with the Complainant’s name) if it is not resolved through informal resolution mechanisms.
  7. Notice to Respondent (Offer of Informal Dispute Resolution)

    • Consistent with the timeline in 2.06, and when the appointed Internal Advisor is satisfied the requirements outlined above are met, and has determined that written complaint disclosure will not jeopardize the potential for an Informal Dispute Resolution process, the Internal Advisor will send the respondent:
      • A copy of the complaint;
      • Possibly supporting materials;
      • An assessment of organizational policies and/or codes of practice that may be engaged;
      • A copy of this policy;
      • A request for a response within two (2) weeks;
      • An offer to facilitate Informal Dispute Resolution.
    • If the Respondent does not reply within one (1) week, the Internal Advisor will notify the ED (or alternate, as per 2.03 above), who will then decide a course of action with the information provided to date. They may consult with the Conflict Resolution Committee, as needed.
  8. Initial Response to the Complainant (Offer of Informal Dispute Resolution).
    • Upon receipt of a timely response from the Respondent, the Internal Advisor will send to the complainant:
      • A copy of the response;
      • Possibly supporting materials;
      • An assessment of organizational policies and/or codes of practice that may be engaged;
      • An offer to facilitate Informal Dispute Resolution.
    • If both parties accept the offer of Informal Dispute Resolution, the Internal Advisor will arrange within one (1) week to facilitate the Informal Dispute Resolution process. This may include such processes as informal meetings, negotiation, facilitated meetings or shuttle or in-person mediation. The Internal Advisor may engage a mediator external to the organization.
    • Any agreed resolution of the complaint arrived at through Informal Dispute Resolution shall be documented in writing and signed by both Complainant and Respondent. These Minutes of Settlement shall be confidential, and items within strictly shared with the Internal Advisor, Staff, Board, legal counsel or other parties that need to know to carry out their organizational duties. Considerations when making an agreement should include:
      • Is the agreement within the scope of the parties’ decision-making powers in relation to their organizational role?
      • Is the agreement realistic and durable?
      • Does the agreement in any way compromise DMG?
      • Are there elements of the agreement that impact on the DMG’s operations, policies, reputation, external relationships or public perceptions?
    • If both parties do not accept the offer of Informal Dispute Resolution, or if Informal Dispute Resolution does not resolve the complaint, the Internal Advisor will immediately forward the Complainant’s and Respondent’s documentation and the Internal Advisor’s report on dispute resolution attempts to date, to the Conflict Resolution Committee. The Committee may then seek advice from the Advisory Group or other external source of expertise. The Conflict Resolution Committee will decide on a course of action with the information provided. Such action may include, but is not limited to:
      • Separation of parties via work re-assignment or changing of scheduling;
      • Having a meeting with each party to discuss best practices for dispute resolution;
      • Directions on training;
      • Implementation of organizational practice and policy changes;
      • Referral to HR policies and procedures, Harassment and Discrimination policy and procedures, and/or OHSA-mandated policies and procedures for resolution.

This procedure is derived in part from work by Sheila Wilmot, Consultant for the MANO Conflict Resolution Working Group.

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