The Grievance Process
The grievance process is the process we use here at EBHC to help members work through conflict, so that they can live together in community without undue stress on themselves or on the group.
What is a grievance?
For the purpose of this policy, a grievance is a conflict or disagreement that occurs between members. It is an interpersonal issue, arising from the behavior of an individual in dealing with another member or members.
The grievance process is not the process for dealing with violation of cooperative agreements, such as nonparticipation/nonpayment. Those issues are dealt with under the Membership Review process.
Who is the filer?
The filer is the person who initiates the grievance process by filing a Grievance Form with the GT.
Can there be more than one filer?
Yes, but they must each fill out a grievance form, and the issue they describe in it must affect them directly and personally.
Who is the responder?
The responder is the person who is named in the Grievance Form, as the person the filer is experiencing conflict with.
Can there be more than one responder?
Yes, but the filer must file one form for each individual, and the issue described in it must be the result of the actions of that individual responder.
Who is the Grievance Team (GT)?
The Grievance Team is the group of people who oversees the grievance process. The team should have at least two but no more than four members. The team should have both female and male members, preferably in equal number. If possible, it should also have members from both east and west clusters. The General Membership will elect GT members.
GT members will be required to attend mediation and conflict resolution training. GT members must agree to maintain confidentiality regarding grievance issues. Failure to comply with either of these guidelines will make the individual ineligible for GT membership.
How the Process Works
When conflict occurs:
The first thing we expect members to do is attempt to resolve the issue individually. If that doesn’t work, then the filer will fill out a Grievance Form (available in the office) and submit it to the GT member they select.
The GT will respond within seven days, except in cases where the filer feels that their personal safety or the personal safety of another is threatened.
In cases where there is a threat to personal safety, the GT will respond immediately. Depending on the severity of the issue, the GT may attempt to arrange a professional mediation right away (if the filer feels safe making that attempt) or bring the issue to an emergency GM for review. The result of this GM may be eviction of the responder, if the threat to personal safety is substantiated and the GM feels that is the appropriate course.
When they receive the Grievance Form, the GT member will contact the responder to notify them about the filing. The responder will then have the opportunity to write a response explaining their side of the issue, on a separate Grievance Form, within seven days.
If a member of the GT is involved in any part of a grievance filing, they agree to step aside from the grievance process for this issue. If filer or the responder feels that a GT member has a conflict of interest, they can request that that member step aside.
Grievance Forms will be kept in a confidential locked file. Only the GT will have access to this file.
The GT will arrange private mediation with the parties involved. Mediation can be performed by a GT member, or by an outside mediator, as the filer and responder prefer. If the filer and responder choose GT mediation, but there is no member of the GT who feels comfortable mediating, then the GT has the option to hire outside mediation. The GT will pay for outside mediation, if necessary, from the Membership budget with approval of the Membership committee.
We assume that the filer and responder will negotiate in good faith and attempt to reach a resolution through cooperative problem solving, per the cooperative agreement in the EBHC Occupancy Agreement. The goal of mediation is to allow the filer and responder to reconcile their differences to a degree that will allow them to participate in community life and interact in ways that will not be disruptive to the function of the group. Some issues might take more than one cycle of mediation, with ‘cooling-off periods in between. As long as the filer and responder are willing to put sincere effort into the mediation process, the GT and the Membership committee are willing to support their effort to seek resolution.
If any member has had three Grievance Forms filed with them as the responder, the GT will convene a closed, confidential review meeting. They will evaluate the grievances, looking for related issues or tendencies. If more than one form is filed about a single instance, the G T may decide to count them as a single grievance, at their discretion. For every grievance filed after the first three, another review will be called.
If, after review, the GT determines that the responder named in the three grievances has demonstrated a pattern of behavior that makes them unfit for continued membership, they will initiate a proposal recommending the termination of membership. They will notify the responder, who can either 1) accept the recommendation of the GT and vacate their unit within 30 days or 2) take the proposal to the GM. They have 48 hours to decide if they want to pursue the GM option, before the recommendation of the GT becomes final.
If the responder chooses to go to the GM, they will present their case to the assembled membership. They will then be asked to leave for the vote. The decision, if the GM decides to terminate membership, will be final. If the GM decides not to terminate membership, it will be on the condition that any further grievances will reactivate the proposal to terminate membership, and the GM will again have to decide whether to extend membership for that member.