Formal action under a complaint (student) or grievance (employee) procedure is initiated by the individual with the complaint or grievance. Formal action under a disciplinary procedure is initiated by the management, such as a head of department or dean.
Students and employees:
Before you launch your complaint or grievance consider what it will mean to follow it through. It is likely to take over your life for a lengthy period, involve a great deal of stress, and trigger chains of unintended consequences.
- Those complained against may become indignant or distressed and make counter-accusations.
- They may try to enlist as supporters the very people you thought would speak up for you and support what you say.
- People avoid one another’s eyes.
- The department becomes an uncomfortable place to be.
- Even those who think you are right, or have been badly treated, may begin to see you as a troublemaker, especially if they feel some guilt themselves.
‘The worst thing was feeling so conspicuous. It was as though everyone was watching me. I felt as though they had all turned against me.’
Those who start a procedure normally have the power to stop it. Withdrawing a complaint or grievance is usually final, but before you do that, ask about mediation.