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Complaint/Grievance Procedure

The Employee and Labor Relations team is responsible for investigating employee relations issues including concerns, both internal and external, raised to VUMC about harassment, retaliation and discrimination. If an employee, faculty, patient, vendor, government agency or visitor feels that someone within VUMC has discriminated, harassed or retaliated against them, please contact Employee and Labor Relations directly at 615.343.4759 or employeerelations.vumc@vanderbilt.edu. Once Employee and Labor Relations has been contacted an investigation will be conducted to review the concerns raised and determine appropriate resolution to the concerns. The following should be noted:

  • Information provided to Employee and Labor Relations will be kept confidential to the fullest extent possible. Employee and Labor Relations will make every effort to protect the confidentiality of all the parties (respondent, complainant and witnesses) but in certain situations, such as addressing concerns through disciplinary action, certain disclosures may occur.
  • The details of the compliant will be documented.
  • The process will be explained to all parties involved and the need for confidentiality.
  • Employee and Labor Relations will reach out to any relevant persons who have pertinent knowledge of the events.
  • Employee and Labor Relations will review all relevant documents, records, files, data and policies to investigate the concern.
  • The respondent will be given an opportunity to provide their response about the concern.
  • The length of time to review the concern will be dependent on the complexity of the concern but Employee and Labor Relations will work to conduct a prompt investigation.
  • Issues can be raised at any time with Employee and Labor Relations but waiting can have disadvantages. In particular, witness's recollections may fade or employees may have left VUMC so we encourage people to reach out in a timely manner so the situation can be addressed.
  • Once the investigation is concluded the parties will be notified of the outcome.
  • Where appropriate, Employee and Labor Relations will facilitate a resolution.

Note that VUMC has an anti-retaliation policy which specifies that VUMC does not retaliate against individuals for:

  • Filing or encouraging one to file a complaint of unlawful discrimination.
  • Participating in an investigation of unlawful discrimination.
  • Opposing unlawful discrimination.

Additional Information

Your Rights and Responsibilities as the person raising the complaint/grievance:

Employee and Labor Relations accepts complaints/grievances of discrimination, harassment and related retaliation on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military or veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression in areas of:

  • Employment
  • Patient care
  • Any other setting involving a VUMC person or entity

If you believe someone within VUMC has discriminated against, harassed or retaliated against you, please contact Employee and Labor Relations. Grievances may be filed at any time; however, it may be to your advantage to contact us as soon as possible after the act in question occurred. If Employee and Labor Relations is not the proper place to handle your complaint, it will direct you to the appropriate department.

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Respondent

As the person responding to the complaint/grievance, you will be informed of the allegations and given every opportunity to ask questions, provide information, and offer names of witnesses or other relevant people. Employee and Labor Relations attempts at all times to protect you from unfounded allegations of discrimination. As such, it expects full and truthful cooperation from you and that you will respect confidentiality. Your cooperation in an objective investigation can assure you of a fair decision on the grievance.

Consistent with VUMC nondiscrimination policies, you must not retaliate against a person who files a complaint, participates in an investigation, encourages one to file, or opposes discrimination. In addition, you must not interfere with an investigation.

How to File a Complaint/Grievance

To file a complaint/grievance of discrimination, harassment or related retaliation with Employee and Labor Relations, please call the office at 615.343.4759, or write to employeerelations.vumc@vanderbilt.edu or Employee and Labor Relations, 2525 West End Ave, Suite 500, Nashville, TN 37203.

If you call or visit Employee and Labor Relations, a staff person will assist you in writing a brief outline of the facts. The staff person will assess the nature of your complaint and either submit your complaint to the Director or refer you to the appropriate department. If your complaint falls within the Employee and Labor Relations purview, an investigator will contact you to set up a time for further discussion. If appropriate, the investigator will assist you in completing a grievance form, and once signed, an investigation will follow. If it is not appropriate, the investigator will refer you to the appropriate department.

If you write to Employee and Labor Relations, please be sure to include what happened and when; names of all parties involved, including witnesses (if any); supporting documentation; your belief as to why the act in question occurred; and your contact information. You know your complaint better than anyone else. Give the Employee and Labor Relations staff person all of the details and answer all questions as fully as you can. Names, dates, places, and details of what happened should be as accurate as possible. Supporting documents, such as payroll slips or performance documentation, can help to support allegations. If witnesses were present, it’s important to give full names, what they will know, and how Employee and Labor Relations can contact them.

The Investigation

For complaints/grievances, the Employee & Labor Relations investigator will seek a response from the person(s) the complaint is against, known as the respondent(s). The investigator will interview relevant persons who may have pertinent knowledge. Supporting documentation and statistical data may be collected and analyzed. The Employee and Labor Relations staff may ask that you clarify some aspects of your complaint. If you learn or remember any additional information, you should notify the Employee and Labor Relations investigator immediately. Once the relevant evidence is gathered, the investigator will determine whether the alleged acts violate a VUMC non-discrimination policy.

The Decision

Employee and Labor Relations decide whether the complaint is substantiated or not. Findings may include:

  • Sufficient evidence to support a violation of the VUMC nondiscrimination policy, whereby appropriate action to address the matter at hand will be taken;
  • Insufficient evidence to support a violation of the VUMC nondiscrimination policy (or inconclusive), whereby the case will be closed; or
  • Insufficient evidence to support a violation of VUMC nondiscrimination policy (or inconclusive), but sufficient evidence to conclude inappropriate acts occurred, whereby a recommendation to the decision-maker will be made.

If you filed a complaint/grievance, the investigator will notify you, and other appropriate parties, of the finding. If you filed a charge with an agency outside of VUMC, the investigator will not be able to notify you of the finding; your inquiries must be made to the agency where you filed your charge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can file a complaint/grievance?
Employees, faculty, staff, patients, and anyone who believes they have been discriminated against by someone within the VUMC community.

How long does it take to conduct an investigation?
It depends on several factors, such as the complexity of the case, the amount of documentation that must be gathered and analyzed, the number of persons to be interviewed, the investigator's caseload, etc.

Is there a time limit to file a grievance with Employee and Labor Relations?
No. An individual may file with Employee and Labor Relations any time. However, waiting has its disadvantages; in particular, a witness's recollections may fade or employees may have left VUMC. We encourage people to reach out in a timely manner so the situation can be addressed.

Is my case confidential?
Cases are confidential to the extent possible. Employee and Labor Relations takes great care in protecting interviewees' statements from both the complainant(s) and respondent(s). However, in certain situations, (i.e., where disciplinary action must be taken against a respondent), it is possible certain disclosures will be made.

Can I take any action against someone for filing a grievance that turns out to have no merit or participating in the Employee and Labor Relations process?
No, it may be seen as retaliation. A person has a right under VUMC nondiscrimination policies to utilize the Employee and Labor Relations complaint/grievance process and is protected from doing so. In addition, anyone who participates in Employee and Labor Relations proceedings, encourages one to utilize his or her right, or opposes discrimination is covered as well.

What is retaliation?
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse action against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity.


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