Employee Relations

Frequently Asked Questions

What is "employee relations?"

Employee relations is that aspect of Human Resources that directs attention to assist employees and management to establish a work environment that is stimulating and creative and that supports an environment in which the individual can perform to the best of his or her ability.


When do I contact someone for assistance in resolving a difficult situation?

Staff members are urged to contact a Human Resources (HR) representative when they have questions regarding employment, such as hiring practices, salary, job classification, promotion, discipline, probation, and termination. Another reason to contact HR is to inquire about University policy and its application to specific situations. More serious contacts include situations that involve discrimination in gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or marital status. The purpose of inquiries can be:

  • To solicit general information,

  • To identify and discuss the issues involved,

  • To consider alternative courses of action, and

  • To do something to resolve the situation.

Employees may call at any time. The conversations are confidential and in most cases, the employee determines the outcome of the meeting and any future actions. The role of the HR representative is to:


  • Provide information,

  • Assist in identifying issues and alternative solutions, and           

  • Provide assistance and support to the employee          

Supervisors and managers (anyone who is responsible for the work of others) are encouraged to contact an HR representative for the following reasons:

  • To discuss the quality and quantity of work,

  • Changes in performance or behavior that affect the general office,

  • To discuss implementing changes in the workplace,

  • And other issues of supervision.


Who should I contact?

Names, phone numbers, and E-mail addresses of HR staff who address employee relations concerns are listed below. These staff members are available to assist you in finding ways to resolve workplace situations and can refer you to other sources of assistance.

Judith Zavalydriga – extension 83897 – jaz308@lehigh.edu

Linda Parks – extension 85195 – linda.parks@lehigh.edu

Human Resources – extension 83900 – inhro@lehigh.edu


What is the Informal Problem Solving Process?

When a discussion with a supervisor does not result in a satisfactory outcome to a job-related situation, a Human Resources representative is available to discuss the matter. Employees may ask questions about policies, request an assessment of their particular situation, and explore potential solutions. After developing a plan of action to address the situation, the employee may choose to approach the supervisor independently or may request the presence of an HR representative. We encourage individuals to attempt to resolve the situation independently if the employee is willing to take that step.

To see the entire Problem Solving Process policy, click here.

Steps in the Problem Solving Process:

The first step in addressing a job-related matter is your supervisor. A discussion with your supervisor will frequently result in clarification of a situation, answers to questions, or a solution to a problem. There are, however, other avenues to consider.

The Problem Solving Process is a formal process that can be activated when other informal steps do not achieve a satisfactory outcome. This process is available to all staff members. Members of the faculty have a separate process and may consult with the Provost’s Office on these matters.

There are four steps in the process:

  1. Meeting with Immediate Supervisor

  2. Meeting with the Next Level Supervisor

  3. Meeting with the Assistant Vice President for Resource Management

  4. Review by Problem Solving Committee.

How do I initiate the Problem Solving Process?

The staff member may obtain the policy and the appropriate form by contacting Human Resources. The employee prepares a written statement summarizing the issue and discusses it with an HR representative who will advise the employee of the next step in the process. The written statement should include:

  • A description of the work-related issue

  • The policy or rule that the employee alleges was violated, if applicable

  • Relevant background information

  • Impact the problem is having on the staff member, and

  • The desired outcome.


What are the most frequent reasons employees contact employee relations representatives?

Most of our conversations with employees are informal discussions and problem-solving sessions. Frequently, employees simply want an objective third party with whom to discuss an issue. Last year, employees came to us with the following concerns:

  • Working relationship with boss

  • Inter-office communication

  • Career development

  • Quality of work issues

  • Management practices

  • Disability questions

  • Harassment or discrimination complaints

  • Concerns regarding salary

  • Unfair treatment

  • Questions regarding policies

  • Flextime

  • Performance appraisals

  • Questions about privacy

  • Sick leave.


What are the most frequent reasons managers and supervisors call an employee relations representative?

Managers and supervisors seek our assistance most frequently to discuss methods to improve performance. Most situations have positive outcomes.

  • Quality of work

  • Attendance

  • Provisional period progress report

  • Relationship with employee

  • Sexual harassment

  • Flextime schedules for office

  • Performance appraisals

  • Reduction in effort or position elimination.


What other resources are available to employees to deal with problems in the workplace?

There are other options for assistance with work-related problems. The following information may be of assistance.


How do I report harassment, discrimination, a bias-motivated incident, or hate crime?

  • Lehigh encourages the reporting of all acts of intolerance.
  • Preserve any evidence (graffiti, phone call recording, e-mail message, letter, etc.).
  • Staff and faculty should report incidents as soon as possible to the appropriate contact person in their specific area. The Harassment Policy Officer website provides information on how to file a formal complaint.
  • A list of individuals who can be approached for informal problem resolution can be found at:



©2007 Human Resources, Lehigh University, 428 Brodhead Ave., Bethlehem, PA 18015
Tel (610) 758-3900 Fax (610) 758-6226