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Procedures for the Faculty Grievance Committee

Approved by Committee, Feb. 25, 1981
Amended, Dec. 10, 1991
Amended, May 8, 1995
Amended April 22, 1996
Amended January 1, 2004
Amended August 24, 2006
Amended October 19, 2007

I. Membership

The Faculty Code provides as follows: “The Faculty Grievance Committee consists of ten elected members, and is structured to represent faculty of all ranks. Three of the members are elected at the time they hold the rank of professor or librarian, three at the time they hold the rank of associate professor or associate librarian, three at the time they hold the rank of assistant professor or assistant librarian or general librarian, and one at the time he or she holds a fixed-term appointment. A member’s promotion in rank during a term of office does not terminate his or her membership. One professor or librarian, one associate professor or associate librarian, and one assistant professor or assistant librarian or general librarian are elected each year. One person holding a fixed-term appointment is elected every third year.” The term of office for each member is three years.

The Committee elects a Chair on an annual basis. “The committee may act as a whole or, by designation of the Chair, in panels of two or more, for the consideration of particular grievances. It may promulgate rules of procedure for its operations. When promulgated, these rules constitute the exclusive formal procedures for the adjustment of faculty grievances herein described. No formal appeal procedure is provided.”

In any case in which a member of the Grievance Committee is also a member of a department or unit involved in the grievance or has a personal relationship that may appear to affect his or her impartiality, that member shall not participate in the hearing or determination of the grievance. Furthermore, a Committee member will not participate in a grievant’s case if the grievant requests that he or she abstain for reasons that the Committee agrees are valid.

II. Committee Charge

The Faculty Code provides as follows: “The committee is authorized to hear and advise with respect to the adjustment of grievances of all persons designated as members of the Faculty by the Trustee Regulations on Academic Tenure and those librarians who are members of the General Faculty. The power of the committee is solely to hear representations by the persons directly involved in grievances, to mediate voluntary adjustment by the parties, and to advise adjustment by the administration when appropriate. Advice for adjustment in favor of an aggrieved faculty member may be given to the chancellor only after the dean, department head, or other administrative official most directly empowered to adjust it has been given similar advice and has not acted upon it within a reasonable time.”

III. Meetings

The Chair calls the meetings of the Committee. A meeting should be held after new members join the Committee to inform them of the procedures of the Committee, and to obtain schedules from the members to facilitate the scheduling of subcommittee meetings. Subsequent meetings shall be called as individual cases or other business requires.

IV. Duties of the Chair of the Committee

It is the Chair’s responsibility to conduct preliminary informal discussions with persons contacting the Committee with respect to potential formal grievances. Often the issues involved can either be resolved informally or are issues beyond the scope of the Committee’s jurisdiction. Hence, not all matters that come to the Chair’s attention result in the filing of formal grievances.

The Faculty Code provides as follows: “No grievance may be considered except on the basis of a prior written statement of its nature by the aggrieved faculty member, and until determination is made that an unsuccessful attempt has been made by the faculty member to resolve it with the administrative official most directly concerned.”

The preliminary discussions should include: (1) the definition of the concerns; (2) a determination that the concerns are within the Committee’s jurisdiction (that is, the potential grievant must be a member of the faculty and the concerns must not be ones within the jurisdiction of the Faculty Hearings Committee, and there must have been an attempt by the grievant to resolve the concerns with the appropriate administrative official); (3) a discussion of the appropriateness of a formal grievance as a means for resolution of the concerns; and (4) an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement, where appropriate.

The Chair decides during these discussions whether a Subcommittee of the Committee should be appointed to cover the matter in greater depth. If a Subcommittee is to be appointed, the grievant must file a written statement of the grievance with the Chair. This written statement must indicate the specific grievances with supporting facts and circumstances, against whom they are directed, the dates, and the proposed remedies. When the written statement is received by the Chair, he or she notifies the grievant in writing whether the matter has been accepted for hearing and, if not, why not. If the matter is accepted, he or she notifies the Chancellor’s office with a memorandum to the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, with a copy of the written grievance attached, starts a file for the individual grievance, and designates the members of the Subcommittee with a Chair and notifies them. The Committee Chair determines the scope of the Subcommittee’s responsibility. He or she notifies the grievant that the Subcommittee has been appointed and instructs the Chair of the Subcommittee to begin the hearings. He or she also notifies the other parties directly involved that the Subcommittee has been appointed and gives them a copy of the written statement of the grievance.

V. Confidentiality of Proceedings

Meetings of the Subcommittee and of the full Committee when it is reviewing a Subcommittee report or discussing any individual employee are closed to the public; only persons asked to attend by the Chair of the Subcommittee or Committee may do so. Information obtained by the Subcommittee and reports prepared by the Subcommittee or Committee are confidential. However, parties directly involved in the grievance have access to all documents related to the grievance.

VI. Procedures for Hearings

Impartiality is essential on the part of the members of the Subcommittee. While parties may be present at meetings, the grievance procedure is primarily intended to facilitate resolution of the grievance. Thus the Subcommittee usually hears one witness at a time with no other witness present except a party to the grievance who chooses to be present. A party to the grievance will be offered an opportunity to be heard by the Subcommittee. A party may be accompanied by a person of his or her choice, if reasonable notice is given to the Subcommittee Chair. Other persons with relevant information may be called to appear before the Subcommittee Chair, and any person directly involved in the grievance and any member of the Subcommittee may suggest other persons who should appear. The Subcommittee Chair is responsible for deciding who will be asked to appear and for scheduling hearings, which may involved multiple sessions. The Subcommittee Chair determines the conduct of all investigations, discussion, mediations, and hearings unless these procedures specify how they must be conducted.

Access to the personnel files in connection with a grievance is in accordance with pertinent University policy. Requests for access by the Committee or any party should be made to the Office of the Assistant to the Chancellor.

At any point in the grievance procedure, including the hearing phase, further negotiations can be held. The grievant has the option of withdrawing his or her grievance at any time or stating that it has been satisfactorily resolved. Such action terminates the responsibilities of the Subcommittee. No formal report, except a statement that the matter was resolved or withdrawn, should be submitted by the Subcommittee Chair.

At the Conclusion of the hearing phase on a grievance that has not been resolved or withdrawn, the Subcommittee writes a report, including its recommendations for resolution of the matter, and forwards it to the Chair of the Committee. The report is based on information from the hearings and on other information made available to all parties directly involved in the grievance. A meeting of the Committee is then held to act upon the report and recommendations. Copies of the subcommittee’s report and recommendations, if they are accepted by the full Committee, or, if not, the Committee’s report and recommendations, should be sent to the grievant, the parties “directly involved” in the grievance, and if the report recommends any action, to the administrative superior most directly empowered to adjust the grievance and who is not “directly involved.” Although the report is advisory, the administrative superior will be asked to report to the Committee whether he or she had taken any action in response to the report and, if so, what action was taken. If the administrative superior declines to take appropriate action on the Committee report within a reasonable time, the Committee will report the matter to the Chancellor.

Special rules apply to grievances alleging racial or sexual harassment. These rules are part of the University’s Racial Harassment Policy and Procedures and Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures and are as follows:

1. The grievant and the accused shall have the right to counsel, to present the testimony of witnesses and other evidence, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and to examine all submitted documents and other evidence. Counsel may not examine witnesses or parties, but may advise their clients during the course of the hearing.

2. The scope of the investigation shall be determined by the Committee Chair in his or her discretion according to the charge and the facts.

3. The Committee shall consider only such evidence as is presented at the hearing. The Committee shall use its judgment in deciding what evidence presented is fair and reliable and in doing so is not bound by the rules of evidence. A recording or other record shall be kept of all proceedings in which evidence is presented.

4. Except as herein provided, the conduct of the hearing is under the charge of the Chair of the hearing.

5. If the majority of the Committee finds that the accused has violated this Policy (on racial or sexual harassment), it shall recommend, in writing, an appropriate course of action – which may include the recommendation of appropriate sanction – to the supervisor of the accused party, with a copy to his or her dean or director. Any recommendation for suspension for employment for diminishment in rank, or for dismissal shall proceed in accordance with the established University policies and procedures on dismissal for cause.

6. If the majority of the Committee finds that the accused has violated this Policy (on racial or sexual harassment), the Committee is entitled to receive from the Sexual Harassment Officer or the Affirmative Action Officer the confidential records of prior incidents of racial or sexual harassment involving that individual, if any, and is entitled to consider such records in reaching its recommendations. A summary of such records shall be included in the Committee’s recommendations to the supervisor.

VII. Grievances Covered by Committee

The Faculty Code provides as follows: “…grievances within the committee’s jurisdiction include matters directly related to a faculty member’s employment status and institutional relationships within the University, except for those within the jurisdiction of the Faculty Hearings Committee or arising from the termination of an administrative appointment.”

Generally speaking the Faculty Hearings Committee has jurisdiction over cases involving suspension, diminishment in rank or discharge of any faculty members, and of cases involving non-reappointment of faculty members on probationary term appointments, including when the faculty member alleges that one of the impermissible grounds for nonreappointment is present in his or her case.

Only current faculty members may file a grievance with the Committee. If a faculty member’s appointment with the University is terminated before his or her grievance has been resolved or before the Committee has made a recommendation, the Committee Chair, after consulting with the Subcommittee, will decide whether the grievance is terminated. The grievance will be terminated if the Committee Chair determines that the faculty member’s termination precludes any appropriate remedy for the grievance. The Committee will retain jurisdiction over the grievance, if the Committee chair determines that an appropriate remedy for the grievance is possible.

VIII. Distribution of Reports

The Faculty Code provides as follows: “The power of the Committee is solely to hear representations by persons directly (emphasis supplied) involved in grievances, to mediate voluntary adjustment by the parties, and to advise adjustment by the administration when appropriate.”

Pursuant to this provision, when efforts to achieve voluntary adjustment of a grievance fail, the Committee gives written advice to the appropriate administrative official. This advice is given and received in confidence. Copies of this report are distributed to the Committee members, grievant, any other persons directly involved in the grievance, and the administrative official most directly empowered to implement any recommendation of the Committee. Under the Faculty Code, no further transmittal of the Report can be made unless the administrative officer most directly concerned declines to take appropriate action on the Report “within a reasonable time,” in which event the Committee will report the matter to the Chancellor.

 

IX. Grievances Against the Grievance Committee

The fact that the grievance may be against some member of the Committee itself, a panel of the Committee, or even the Committee as a whole, does not deprive the Committee of jurisdiction.

X. Appeal of Grievances

The Faculty Code provides that no “formal appeal procedure is provided” from decisions of the Committee. However, the Code of the Board of Governors also provides that: “If the faculty grievance committee did not advise that an adjustment in favor of the grievant was appropriate, then the decision of the chancellor is final and may not be appealed. If neither the relevant administrative official nor the chancellor makes an adjustment that is advised by the faculty grievance committee in favor of the aggrieved faculty member, then the faculty member may appeal to the board of trustees of the constituent institution. The decision of the board of trustees is final.”

XI. Modification of These Procedures

These procedures were adopted by the Committee and may be changed at any time by a majority vote of the Committee.