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Ombuds Office Resource Guide

What is Formal Dispute Resolution?

When you are involved in a conflict and want to resolve it, you often have two options: informal resolution or formal resolution.

Formal resolution processes include things like grievances or lawsuits. They usually require you to submit your complaint in writing and provide evidence or testimony, which is then considered by the appointed decisionmaker(s). Generally the outcome is a written decision, which you may (or may not) have the ability to appeal. All of this usually takes place within specified deadlines. In a formal resolution process, you get to present your complaint, but you don't get to decide the outcome.

Informal resolution is less focused on the process and more focused on the outcome. Rather than taking opposing sides, the parties work in a collaborative fashion to try and achieve an outcome that is mutually acceptable. The parties themselves take responsibility for developing the outcome, rather than giving that task to an uninterested decisionmaker (like a judge). Mediation is one type of informal resolution process.

Iowa State University offers options for both informal and formal resolution of conflicts. The Ombuds Office can provide you with information, assistance, or referrals for informal conflict resolution. This page provides links to policies and procedures related to formal resolution options. A starting place is the University HR's Conflict in the Workplace site. Resources for specific classes of employees and students are listed below.

Faculty Appeals

The ISU Faculty Handbook includes sections about faculty grievance procedures and misconduct allegations.

Formal Dispute Resolution for P&S and C&S Staff

Both Professional and Scientific staff and Confidential and Supervisory staff may use the Dispute Resolution procedures established by Human Resource Services. Links to those procedures are located here.

The link to information about Reclassification appeals is also included.

For Merit Employees:

For Merit employee changes and to access a Frequently Asked Questions information sheet visit the following website:

Graduate College Appeals

Chapter 9 of the Graduate College Handbook provides information about options for graduate students.

Discrimination and Harassment