The Complaint Process at Lawson State
Lawson State Community College takes all concerns and complaints seriously and each is fully vetted. Follow these steps to resolve all complaints from informal to formal complaints. Employees are strongly encouraged to resolve conflicts under the informal process first before advancing to the formal complaint process level.
NOTE: Harassment and Retaliation complaints are viewed as highly serious complaints. Thus, employees with such complaints, can skip Steps 1 and 2 (if they feel uncomfortable addressing the matter personally), and file a formal complaint (at the college) immediately (online) after viewing the terms and conditions. See below for the definition of Harassment and Retaliation before filing.
Informal Complaint Process (Step 1 & Step 2):
Step 1: Address the Matter Informally (one-on-one)
If you feel safe and comfortable, first address the complaint or concern with the parties involved (faculty member, staff member, student, etc...) one-on-one. Your goal is to try to resolve the problem on this level amicably. Remember, when attempting to resolve a concern or conflict at this level, it is important to address the concern, not attack the person or persons involved. Just, to the best of your ability, discuss what is concerning you and clarify (to the individual) what you would like to happen to resolve the matter. Most concerns and conflicts can be resolved on this level, so start here first. If unsuccessful, move to Step 2. Click here to view this brief article on handling conflicts.
Step 2: Speak with Department Chair or Office Director
If Step 1 was not successful, speak with the individual's direct supervisor and your supervisor.
Formal Complaint Process (Steps 3, 4 & 5):
When you move from Step 2 to Step 3, your complaint moves from an informal complaint to a formal complaint (in writing). If the complaint is not resolved by working with your supervisor, file an official complaint via Lawson's online complaint system (Advocate). Official complaints can be filed after clicking on the Faculty and Staff tab (on the main website). From there, an investigation into your complaint will be lodged and a Dean's Resolution (aimed to resolve your complaint) will be issued.
Step 4: File a Grievance Online
Although extremely rare, if you disagree or want to challenge the Dean's Resolution, you would then file a Grievance. In doing so, a Grievance Committee will "field" your complaint and any and all challenges you have made of the Dean's Resolution (based on proven facts, not simply disagreement with the Dean's Resolution. Please keep in mind that simply disagreeing with the Dean's Resolution is not enough to overturn a Dean's Resolution. You will have to demonstrate that the Dean's Resolution was insufficient in resolving your complaint.
Step 5: Grievance Hearing
Step 5 is the final step in the Complaint process. Grievance Committee Decisions (which involve Lawson State's Vice Presidents) are final and end the complaint process at Lawson State Community College. Either party, the party who issued a complaint or the party who may have been involved in the complaint, can file a grievance.
Reporting Your Complaint to an External Governing Agency
Alabama Community College System.
Click here to access their site: https://www.accs.cc/index.cfm/contact/
Note: Please follow the college's internal complaint process first before submitting a complaint with the state.
Click here for information on how to file a complaint against an institution with its accreditation agency--SACS.COC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges). : http://www.sacscoc.org/FAQsanswers.asp#q12
Note: Again, be sure you have completed all of Lawson State's internal complaint processes (to resolve your complaint) before filing an external complaint. Click here for SACS COC accreditation information at Lawson State.
Terminology: Harassment and Retaliation Defined
Lawson State Community College has a zero tolerance policy against harassment or retaliation. Such claims should be filed online immediately and advanced to Step 3 (see above) instantly. However, before filing such a serious claim, review the definitions below to ensure you have a claim. Please be advised that knowingly filing false harassment or retaliation claims can have repercussions.
Harassment is abusive or hostile conduct which is directed toward or inflicted upon another person because of his or her race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran's status and which, because of its severity or pervasiveness, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work or academic performance or creates a hostile or abusive work or learning environment for that individual's work, education, or participation in a [college] activity. Harassment is typically based on stereotyped prejudices and includes, but is not limited to, slurs, jokes, objectionable epithets, or other verbal, graphic, or physical conduct that demeans, insults, or intimidates an individual because of his or her race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran status (UA, 2012).
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of employment or academic advancement; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's performance as an employee or student or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment (UA, 2012).
Retaliation (Against Sexual Harassment Claims)
Retaliation against persons who oppose or complain about harassment is strictly prohibited. Retaliation is any action that has the effect of punishing a person for engaging in a legally protected activity, such as alleging harassment, making a harassment complaint, or assisting in a harassment investigation. Examples of retaliatory adverse employment actions include suspension, demotion, or termination. In addition, this policy prohibits retaliation in the form of harassment, intimidation, threats, or coercion, or in the form of any materially adverse harm that would dissuade a reasonable student or employee from filing a harassment complaint or participating in a harassment investigation( UA, 2012).
Retaliation against persons who oppose, complain, seek a grade appeal or file a grievance or any other issue is strictly prohibited on the campus of Lawson State. Retaliation is any action that has the effect of punishing a person for engaging in a legally protected activity, such as making a complaint or appeal or grievance, or assisting in a complaint or appeal or grievance investigation. Examples of retaliatory adverse employment actions include suspension, demotion, or termination. In addition, this policy prohibits retaliation in the form of harassment, intimidation, threats, or coercion, or in the form of any materially adverse harm that would dissuade a reasonable student or employee from filing a complaint, an appeal or grievance or participating in said investigation (UA, 2012).