SP 3-50a – Employee Grievances

Colorado Community College System / System Procedure

SP 3-50a

EFFECTIVE: December 19, 1991
RETITLED: September 14, 2000
RETITLED: August 25, 2001
REVISED: May 9, 2012
REVISED: July 11, 2013
REVISED: January 20, 2015
REVISED: May 8, 2024

REFERENCE: Board Policy (BP) 3-50, Employee Grievances


/ Joseph A. Garcia /
Joseph A. Garcia, Chancellor


This procedure applies to all non-classified employees as defined in BP 3-10, Administration of Personnel, within the Colorado Community College System, including its Colleges (CCCS or System). The grievance process for Classified employees is defined by the State of Colorado Department of Personnel Board Rules and Personnel Director’s Administrative Procedures.


This procedure establishes the grievance process for eligible CCCS employees, when they feel an action violates or inequitably applies Board Policies (BPs), System Procedures (SPs), or College Protocols (“Protocols”) and, as a result, adversely affects the employee’s working conditions.

The following matters are not grievable under these procedures:

  • Matters over which the employer is without authority to act.
  • The merit or validity of a decision when there is no concern being raised about a violation of policy or procedure in reaching the decision.
  • Performance Evaluation ratings.
  • Disciplinary actions, separations, and layoffs/reductions-in-force.
  • Discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on civil rights laws, including sexual misconduct (see SP 19-60a, Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct Resolution Process).


“Appointing Authority” is the individual with the authority, or delegated authority, to approve personnel actions.

“Complainant” is a person who is alleged to have been subjected to conduct that is a violation or inequity of System policies, procedures, or protocols.

“Respondent” is a person whose alleged conduct is the subject of a grievance.


Employees must submit all grievances in writing to their Human Resources (HR) Department, in a timely manner. Grievances shall be made as promptly as possible after the occurrence. A delay in reporting may be reasonable under some circumstances; however, an unreasonable delay in reporting is an appropriate consideration in evaluating the merits of a grievance. Additionally, a delay in reporting may result in the loss of relevant evidence and witness testimony, and may affect the ability of CCCS to substantiate the allegations.

The grievance should describe the alleged violation or incident, which may include when and where it occurred, the parties involved, and the desired remedy sought. Any supporting documentation and evidence may be referenced within the body of the grievance. If a grievance involves parties who are employed at or associated with different Colleges or the System Office, the HR department in receipt of the grievance shall coordinate with applicable HR departments at other locations to carry out these procedures.

As necessary, CCCS reserves the right to initiate a grievance, to serve as Complainant, and/or to initiate grievance proceedings without a formal grievance by the victim of misconduct.

All grievances shall be assessed by the preponderance of evidence standard, meaning a determination of whether it is more likely than not that the violation occurred. The grievance process is designed to address and resolve problems at the lowest level possible.

HR shall initially determine whether the matter is grievable or non-grievable.

  • If grievable, HR shall initiate the grievance process.
  • If HR determines the issue is not grievable, they shall inform the Complainant of this decision in writing. This decision is final.

Informal Process

Every reasonable effort should be made to constructively resolve the issue at the informal level. HR shall be the facilitator over the informal resolution process.

The primary focus during an informal process remains the proper application of BPs, SPs, and Protocols, but it does not involve a written investigation report or an opportunity to appeal. The informal process may include, but is not limited to, providing remedial measures, mediation or facilitated resolution between the parties, training or educational programming, or referral to other resolution processes or authorities to address the reported behavior as deemed appropriate. If a mutually agreeable resolution is reached through the informal process, the matter will be closed.

Formal Process

If informal resolution is not successful, HR shall conduct a review of the grievance, which includes gathering relevant details from the complainant(s) and respondent(s), and creating a written report. Both parties will be given the opportunity to discuss the allegations of the grievance and may offer any documentation, witnesses, or other materials in support of the grievance. HR may also contact or request a meeting with relevant employees or others as part of the review. Upon completion of HR’s review of the grievance, the Complainant and Respondent shall be informed in writing of the outcome and of any recommendations to resolve the matter.

The Complainant and Respondent shall be advised of their right to appeal the decision, subject to the grounds below, by filing a written appeal with HR within ten (10) business days of service of the decision.

Complainants and Respondents have the opportunity to be advised by a personal advisor of their choice, at their expense, beginning with the formal process, and to be accompanied by that advisor at any meeting during the formal process or appeal.

An advisor may only consult and advise their advisee but may not speak for the advisee at any meeting. These procedures are entirely administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings. The System or College may remove or dismiss an advisor who becomes disruptive or who does not abide by the restrictions on their participation.


In the event of an appeal, HR shall give written notice to the other party to allow them the opportunity to submit a response in writing within five (5) business days. All appeals and any responses are then forwarded to the Appointing Authority or delegate for initial review, to determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds and was timely filed within ten (10) days. The original finding will stand if the appeal is not timely filed or does not meet the appealable grounds described below, and the decision is final. The original decision is presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately.

The ONLY grounds for appeal are as follows:

  • A procedural or substantive error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the decision (e.g., substantiated bias, conflict of interest, or material deviation from established procedures). The written appeal shall specify the procedural error and how it impacted the outcome of the decision.
  • To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original review process, that could substantially impact the original finding. Any new evidence and its potential impact must be included in the written appeal.

If the Appointing Authority or delegate determines that a material procedural or substantive error occurred, it may return the grievance to HR with instructions to conduct an additional review or to otherwise cure the error. In rare cases where the procedural or substantive error cannot be cured by HR (such as in cases of bias), the Appointing Authority or delegate may order a new review conducted by a different individual. The results of a secondary review cannot be appealed.

If the Appointing Authority or delegate determines that new evidence should be considered, it will return the grievance to HR to reconsider in light of the new evidence only.


It is a violation of this procedure to engage in retaliation against any person who files a grievance or because of a person’s participation, or perceived participation, in a grievance proceeding. Retaliation includes acts to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purposes of interfering with any right or privilege provided by this procedure.


CCCS reserves the right to change any provision or requirement of this procedure at any time and the change shall become effective immediately.