Complaints and Grievances

General Information and Resources

Can I discuss an issue informally with someone before going any further?

The Ombuds Council is an independent, informal, neutral and confidential resource that assists members of the university community in exploring options to resolve problems, complaints and conflicts at a preliminary and informal level. An ombuds can serve as a resource for those who seek informal guidance on policies, procedures and regulations affecting faculty and staff. Faculty and academic staff may also contact the Office of the Secretary of the University, Lubar Hall N450, (414) 229-5988.

If the question involves discrimination based on a protected class, contact the Office of Equity/Diversity Services, 359 Mitchell Hall, (414) 229-5923.

UWM also has complaint procedures by which anyone at UWM may allege that a University Staff employee has violated the rules and policies of UWM. Such complaints should be written and submitted directly to the supervisor, department chair or department head of the employee. They may also be submitted directly to the Department of Human Resources, 125 Engelmann Hall, (414) 229-4463.

As a University Staff employee, how do I file a grievance?

The UWM University Staff Grievance Policy is posted on the Department of Human Resources website. The primary step is to seek informal resolution by bringing the issue to the attention of your immediate supervisor. If you cannot approach your supervisor or the manager, you may also approach the personnel representative for your school, college or division for directions on whom to approach.

What if I think I have been subjected to harassment, discrimination or retaliation based on a protected class?

The Office of Equity/Diversity Services, 359 Mitchell Hall, administers campus policies related to protected-class discrimination, sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and hate/bias incident reporting. Employees who believe they have been the subject of prohibited discrimination, harassment or retaliation are encouraged but not required to clearly tell the person engaged in the conduct to stop. If the employee is uncomfortable with this, the employee may discuss the situation with the supervisor or Department Chair and request that the supervisor or Department Chair report the matter to the Office of Equity/Diversity Services. The employee may also reach out to the Office of Equity/Diversity Services directly to discuss the matter. There are several options for informal and formal complaints.

It should be noted that UW System Administration has mandated that all UW employees must take Title IX, Sexual Violence and Harassment Awareness, Prevention and Response training within 30 days of being hired.

A student tells me (faculty member or teaching academic staff member) that he or she been sexually assaulted. What do I need to do?

The employee cannot call the UWM Police to report a sexual assault, but may assist the student in doing so.

Incidents that are not an immediate threat (even when they involve an employee) should be reported to the Title IX coordinator in the Office of Equity/Diversity Services, (414) 229-5923. Reports can be anonymous. All reports should be made to the Title IX Coordinator, even those reported to the UWM Police.

You may also report to the Office of Student Life, using the online incident form, calling (414) 229-4632, or sending a message to dos@uwm.edu.

What if I want to report an incident involving someone displaying threatening, disruptive, anti-social or dangerous behavior?

Incidents involving an immediate threat should always be reported to UWM Police by calling 9-911 from a campus phone, 911 from an off-campus phone, or using a campus S.A.F.E. phone (on a yellow pole with a blue light).

For nonemergencies call UWM Police at (414) 229-4627. Incidents that are not an immediate threat (even when they involve an employee) should be reported to the Dean of Students Office using the online incident form, by calling (414) 229-4632, or sending a message to dos@uwm.edu.

As a faculty member, how can I learn what actions might be grievable?

Contact the Office of the Secretary of the University or the Office of Equity/Diversity Services.

As a faculty member, how do I complain about another faculty member?

The Secretary of the University facilitates all faculty governance committees. The Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee (FRRC) is a standing committee of the faculty.

If the complaint alleges discrimination based on a protected class, contact the Office of Equity/Diversity Services.

As a faculty member, how do I complain about my department chair? The dean?

The general procedure is to go to the next level up; if you have a complaint about a chair, you would see the dean; If you have a complaint about a dean, you would see the provost.

If the complaint alleges discrimination based on a protected class, contact the Office of Equity/Diversity Services.

As a faculty member, what if I believe the tenure and promotion process has not been fair to me?

The Office of the Secretary of the University facilitates the activities of grievance committees. Information is available in Chapter 5 of Faculty Policy and Procedures.

Specific information about the Faculty Appeals and Grievance Committee is available on the Secretary of the University website under faculty standing committees.

If the complaint alleges discrimination based on a protected class, contact the Office of Equity/Diversity Services.

As a faculty member, what if I believe that discrimination played a part in tenure denial?

The Office of the Secretary of the University facilitates the activities of grievance committees. Information is available in Chapter 5 of Faculty Policy and Procedures.

Specific information about the Faculty Appeals and Grievance Committee is available on the Secretary of the University website under faculty standing committees.

If the complaint alleges discrimination based on a protected class, contact the Office of Equity/Diversity Services.

Help with Personal Problems

What if I am having personal problems that affect my performance and my job?

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) was established at UWM because family, marital, alcohol, drug, financial, stress, emotional, and other personal problems can affect the quality of an employee’s life at home and performance on the job. UWM contracts with Life Matters, a private, nonprofit human services agency, to provide this benefit to employees and their immediate families/household members. See their website, https://www.mylifematters.com/ (password SOWI) or call (800) 634-6433.

There is more information on the Department of Human Resources website.

What if I need more information on the Federal or Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act leave (FMLA)? Where are the FMLA application forms?

FMLA/WFMLA leave application forms and information are found in the FMLA Toolkit on the Department of Human Resources website.

Leave is available under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) for individuals who have worked at least 52 weeks and who have been on the payroll for a total of 1,000 hours. It provides two weeks of leave for employees with a serious medical condition, two weeks for the care of a child, spouse, in-law or parent, and six weeks of leave for birth or adoption of a child.

Leave is available under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for employees who have been employed with UWM for 12 months, who have worked 1,250 hours in the year preceding the start of the leave, and who need the leave for a qualifying reason. A qualifying reason includes leave for treatment for a serious health condition for the employee; leave for caring for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition; or for birth or adoption of a child. Leave for the previously listed reasons is for a total of 12 weeks and it can be used all at once for 12 consecutive weeks, or it may be used intermittently. Leave provided under the WFMLA and FMLA is unpaid leave but employees may substitute any accrued leave.

Who is the personnel or unit business representative for my school, college, or division?

On a campus the size of UWM, many personnel and business functions are conducted at the school/college or division level. A comprehensive list of the personnel representatives and the unit business representatives for the various schools, colleges and divisions is posted in the PREP/UBR Directory on the Department of Human Resources website.

What if I may have a disability that could be accommodated?

UWM S-45.1 is the UWM Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Procedures for Employees. It applies to all UWM employment classifications, including full- or part-time, student, temporary university staff, academic staff and faculty.

The Disability Accommodation Request Form is available on the Department of Human Resources website under forms. The form should be presented to your supervisor. The policy sets forth the procedures. If you are dissatisfied with the response from your school/college or division, you may appeal to the compliance officer in the Department of Human Resources.

What if I need to report an injury on the job?

The Worker’s Compensation Act provides benefits when an employee is injured performing service growing out of and incidental to his or her employment. Injuries should be immediately reported to your supervisor who will provide an Employer’s First Report of Injury.

For further information see the Worker’s Compensation Toolkit or contact the UWM Worker’s Compensation Coordinator at (414) 229-5652.

What if I have trouble with my health insurance carrier?

Contact Benefits in the Department of Human Resources, call (414) 229-5353 or email benefits@uwm.edu.

The Governance Process

What if I have questions about the tenure and promotion process?

UWM Faculty Policies and Procedures Chapter 5 provides information. Other information is available from the Office of the Secretary of the University. For academic staff, Chapter 107 of the Academic Staff Personnel Policies and Procedures applies.

What if I have questions about the open meetings requirements?

There is information on the UWM Office of Legal Affairs website on open meetings, public records and records retention. There is also a wealth of information on the Wisconsin Open Meetings law on the UW System Administration Office of the General Counsel’s website.

The Secretary of the University web site also has a section on the open meetings law.

What if I have questions about the Academic Staff performance review process?

Information is available on the Office of the Secretary of the University site. For academic staff, UWM Chapter 105 of the UWM Academic Staff Personnel Policies & Procedures applies.

What if I have questions about honorary degrees?

UWM S-30 Honorary Degrees is the UWM policy. There is also a faculty Honorary Degrees Committee that considers and recommends candidates. Questions can be directed to the Office of the Secretary of the University.

What if I have questions about distinguished professorships?

UWM S-21.5 Endowed, Named and Distinguished Professorships is the UWM policy.