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Formal Complaint Resolution

Learn about the formal complaint resolution process.

Filing a grievance or complaint

If you have been unsuccessful at solving a conflict in the workplace through informal conflict management, or if you have chosen not to use that process, you have a right to use the formal complaint resolution process. During the process, you may be entitled to a fact-finding investigation, hearing, or arbitration before a third-party neutral fact-finder, a hearing officer, or an arbitrator.

  • Complaint: If your position's title code is covered by the Personnel Policies for Staff Members (PPSM), consult PPSM policy, as well as any relevant local implementing procedures to learn how to file a complaint.
  • Grievance: If your position's title code is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, you can either refer to your collective bargaining agreement or contact your union representative for information about filing a grievance.

What is a complaint? A complaint is a written claim by an individual employee regarding a specific management act that is alleged to have either adversely affected the employee’s existing terms or conditions of employment or violated a provision of the PPSM.

What is a grievance? A grievance is a written complaint by an individual employee, a group of employees, or a union that the university has violated a specific provision of the collective bargaining agreement during the term of the collective bargaining agreement.


At each step of the formal complaint or grievance procedure, an employee has a right to a representative.


No employee shall be subject to reprisal for using or participating in the complaint or grievance resolution process.

To initiate a formal complaint or grievance

An employee may file a complaint in accordance with the specific terms of PPSM policy or a grievance in accordance with the grievance procedure article in the applicable collective bargaining agreement. Pursuant to PPSM and most collective bargaining agreements, complaints or grievances must be submitted within 30 calendar days from the date the employee knew or should have known of the act that gave rise to the complaint or grievance. For details on filing a complaint or grievance, please refer to How to File a Complaint or Grievance.

Contact Labor Relations, (858) 534-2810, or Employee Relations, (858) 534-4115. For Health Sciences or Health employees, please contact Health Human Resources.
Notice: The information on this page summarizes provisions of university policies and/or collective bargaining agreements. Refer to the Personnel Policies for Staff Members (PPSM) and local implementing procedures or applicable collective bargaining agreement for full text of referenced information.