by Sherrie Scott

Human resources attempts resolve workplace conflict.

The human resources department, HR, frequently acts as a mediator between employees and managers, quickly responding to conflict and ensuring employers do not violate the rights of employees. Human resources personnel settle workplace disputes through interpreting company policies and employment and labor laws. The human resources department follows conflict resolution procedures to successfully reach an acceptable outcome for all parties.

Employee Complaints

Responding to employee complaints, human resources deals with allegations of unfair treatment, unfavorable working conditions and disputes between co-workers and managers. HR clearly explains workplace codes of conduct and offers solutions and compromises. The department determines the appropriate disciplinary action, if necessary, and files details of the events.

Labor Relations

Acting as a liaison between employers and labor unions, human resources implements labor relations programs, settles labor disputes that could possibly lead to strikes or litigation, deals with bargaining agreements and such employee relations matters as contracts, wages and salaries, benefits and pensions. When disputes arise or union representatives and employers cannot agree, HR negotiates terms and helps the parties reach a decision.


Allegations of discrimination, harassment and unfair treatment also fall within the purview of human resources. If an employee feels he has been discriminated against or is the victim of harassment, human resources is the first step in resolving the matter. The department investigates the claim, establishes its validity and also interprets equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws to see if the employer is in compliance. HR offers a remedy to the situation or assists employees with filing formal charges.

Workplace Injury

Human resources prevents potential conflict if an employee sustains an on-the-job injury. Employees must first notify human resources of the incident so HR can promptly open a worker’s compensation claim. If the injury is the result of the employer’s negligence, HR can counteract potential lawsuits by ensuring the worker receives medical attention and compensation for his injuries and lost wages.


This article examines the role that the Human Resources department can play in mediation. Before other mediating organizations are called to resolve disputes, every company has or should have an HR department that will interpret company policy regarding conflict. In this sense HR is the first line of defence.

Examples of conflict such as labor disputes, sexual harassment, racial discrimination fall within the ambit of HR and often leads to settling disputes and avoiding litigation.



Settle: to bring a matter to an agreement.

Outcome: effect; result.

Liaison: working associations between groups.

Arise: happen; appear.

Purview: limit of one’s concern, activity or knowledge.

Claim: demand for something as one’s right.

Remedy: to put (something bad) right.


The word liaison is used in the text and is an example of many other words borrowed from French. The reason for this influence is by no means accidental and can be traced directly to the year 1066, when England was invaded by French speaking Normans from Normandy which is in modern day France.

Because of a dispute over the English crown, William the Conqueror invaded the island with an army and defeated the English king Harold at the battle of Hastings. This changed the course of  English history forever and introduced the French language into English.

At the time the people of England spoke Anglo-Saxon or old English and this fact created a sociological division in the English language. The names of many types of animal and meat have an English word and a French word as the Anglo-Saxons were forced to hand over their farm animals to the Normans. So, a pig (Anglo-Saxon) was consumed by the Normans as pork (French). In the same way a cow (Anglo-Saxon) was consumed and given the name beef (French). A sheep (Anglo-Saxon) became mutton (French).

For many hundreds of years the English aristocracy spoke French and only with the hundred years’ war in the 14th century did the English monarchs adopt English.