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Academic Affairs / Provost

Administration 203
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4116



Grievances

Academic Policies and Procedures

 

Grievances

Date of Current Revision:  December 2017  

Primary Responsible Officer: Provost or designee

 

Grievances

 

University of Central Missouri

Dispute Resolution and Grievance Procedures

 

I.            Purpose and Scope

 

These procedures provide a prompt and efficient avenue for the fair and equitable resolution of faculty grievances. A grievance constitutes the following allegations by a faculty member that his or her employment has been impacted by: (1) a violation, misinterpretation, or inequitable application of policies established by the Board of Governors and/or administration; (2) a violation of academic freedom; or (3) other action taken against the faculty member that is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise inequitable, for which administrative action could provide a remedy. These procedures do not replace other institutional procedures governing certain types of conduct (e.g., Title IX complaints). Further, these procedures are not a mechanism for seeking new or revised institutional policies.

 

The philosophy of the University is that a grievance procedure is a positive and equitable process for the solution of problems and serves not only faculty members but also the administration of the University.

 

II.           Role of the Faculty Senate Committee on Dispute Resolution and Grievance (FSCDRG)

       

The FSCDRG is available to assist a faculty member in understanding these procedures or, if necessary, directing the faculty member to alternative complaint procedures if other procedures are more applicable to the faculty member's issue. The FSCDRG also has other responsibilities under these procedures, as covered below.

 

III.           Informal Grievance Procedure

 

     A.     All reasonable efforts should be made by the aggrieved person to resolve the issue through normal administrative channels. For example, prior to the initiation of a formal grievance, the faculty member shall have the option of requesting an informal meeting with the parties involved.

 

To the extent possible, all issues that might lead to a formal grievance should be settled through informal discussions at the lowest administrative level.

 

     B.     Upon the request of the grievant, the Chair of the FSCDRG, or another designated member of the FSCDRG, may coordinate and facilitate this meeting and document all attempts at informal resolution, including whether the issue has been resolved.

 

     C.    If the issue is resolved, the process is terminated.

 

     D.    If an issue is not resolved via an informal meeting, the faculty member may pursue the formal process.

 

IV.          Formal Grievance Procedure               

 

A.     General Standards

 

         The following standards apply to all levels of the formal process:

 

     1.  A formal grievance must be filed within ten (10) business days after the grievant knows or should have known of the harm or damage alleged. Missing this deadline can be excused by showing that good faith attempts at informal resolution occurred and that the grievance was filed within five (5) business days after informal resolution was unsuccessful.

 

     2.  A grievance will be barred from further consideration if a grievant fails to meet the established time frames for requesting review identified at each level.

 

     3. While those involved with implementing the procedures on behalf of the University will strive to meet the time frames established for meeting with the grievant and notifying the parties of the outcome of the grievance, extensions are appropriate if warranted by the circumstances. The grievant and others involved should be notified of any extensions to established time frames in writing.

 

     4. During the grievance process, a grievant may receive the advice and support from a UCM faculty colleague that is not otherwise involved in the underlying complaint. The grievant may also consult with legal counsel at his/her discretion, at the faculty member's own expense. However, no legal counsel (either representing an individual or the University) will be permitted to attend or participate in any meetings or University hearings.

 

     5. The FSCDRG is responsible for ensuring that this procedure is followed and for responding to a grievant’s questions regarding the applicability of these rules.

 

     6. As needed for the prompt resolution of multiple grievances regarding the same issue or occurrence, they may be combined and considered together as deemed appropriate by the FSCDRG.

 

     7. Every effort should be made to ensure that no one participating in the grievance process is subjected to retaliation.

 

     8. Grievances shall be processed during normal faculty working days within the nine-month academic year without loss of pay to parties involved.

 

     9. All those involved with a grievance— whether it is as a grievant, respondent, witness, University administrator, or FSCDRG member —are expected to cooperate as the University attempts to resolve the matter.

 

     10. All those involved with a grievance—whether it is as a grievant, respondent, witness, University administrator, or FSCDRG member—are expected to maintain confidentiality. The University is responsible to protect confidentiality of all personnel records and legal records created through the process in compliance with applicable law.

 

     11. At each level of these procedures, the administrator or Faculty Hearing Panel with whom the grievant is meeting is required to document the process, including keeping a record of the grievance and any meetings, decisions, and outcomes that occur at that level of review. These records are shared with the grievant and the Office of the Faculty Senate. All official documents involved in the grievance process shall be retained in the Office of the Faculty Senate for a period of seven years, confidentially sealed as to Office procedure.

 

     12. At each level, an audio recording can be made with the agreement of all participants involved and upon a request; a copy will be made available to the parties involved without cost.

 

B. Procedural Levels

 

The steps for a formal grievance are listed below. If the grievance is against an administrator involved in carrying out the procedures at a particular level, the grievance should be initiated at the subsequent level in the process (e.g., if the grievance is against the faculty member's Dean, the grievance should be initiated on Level Four).

 

Level One: The faculty member seeking a formal resolution to a grievance should first file a written grievance to the FSCDRG Chair. As stated in A.1. above, a formal grievance must be filed within ten (10) business days after the grievant knows or should have known of the harm or damage alleged. The grievance should describe the location, date, and nature of the event(s) giving rise to the grievance, the person(s) responsible, the alleged harm or damage caused, and the remedy being requested. As soon as schedules permit, but no later than ten (10) business days after receipt of the written grievance, the FSCDRG Chair will hold a meeting with the faculty member and the FSCDRG Committee to discuss options as covered in this document. The FSCDRG Chair will create a written summary of the meeting and provide it to the grievant by the end of the second business day after the meeting occurs.  The FSCDRG chair will include a committee decision as to whether or not the grievance fits the criteria listed in I. Purpose and Scope, and A.1. Above. If the committee decides that the grievance does not fit the criteria listed in A.1., the grievance shall not proceed to Level Two.  The faculty member may not modify the formal written grievance at any time during the subsequent levels of this process.

 

Level Two: If not resolved, the grievant may continue the process by requesting review of the grievance by his/her Department/School Chair. The request should include the initial written grievance and describe any relevant background from prior procedural levels of review. As soon as schedules permit, but no later than ten (10) business days after receipt of the request, the Department/School Chair will review the grievance. Every effort will be made to resolve the grievance at this level. The Chair may meet with relevant parties and/or request additional information in his/her discretion. The Department/School Chair will create a written summary of his or her review, including any decision reached, and provide it to the grievant and to the Chair of the FSCDRG by the end of the second business day after the meeting occurs.

 

Level Three: If the grievance remains unresolved, the grievant may continue the process by requesting a review by the Dean. This request should be made in writing within ten (10) business days of the decision of the Department/School Chair. It should include the original written grievance explaining the event(s) and remedy sought and a brief explanation as to why the grievance could not be resolved with the Department/School Chair. The Dean may also seek documentation from the Department/School Chair regarding the grievance. As soon as schedules permit, but no later than ten (10) business days after receipt of the written request, the Dean will review the grievance. Every effort will be made to the resolve the grievance at this level. The Dean may meet with relevant parties and/or request additional information in his/her discretion. The Dean will create a written summary of the review, including any decision reached, and provide it to the grievant and the Chair of the FSCDRG by the end of the second business day after the meeting occurs.

 

Level Four: If the grievance remains unresolved, the grievant may continue the process by requesting a hearing before an appointed Faculty Hearing Panel (FHP). This request should be made to the Chair of the FSCDRG in writing within ten (10) business days of the decision of the Dean and should include the faculty member's original grievance explaining the event(s) and remedy sought. The Chair of the FSCDRG will in turn notify the Provost that a hearing option is being pursued. The FHP and the hearing are described below. The purpose of the FHP is to hear the grievance and issue a written recommendation to the Provost for a final decision, within ten (10) business days of the FHP meeting. A copy of the recommendations will be given to the grievant at the same time.

 

               (a.)  Faculty Hearing Panel (FHP)

When a grievant has requested a hearing before the FHP, a panel of five members, will be selected randomly from the Faculty Hearing Pool by the Chair of the FSCDRG. The FHP for a particular grievance will not include any representation from the grievant's or respondent’s college or other governing unit. At least one member of each of the remaining governing units will be selected from the Faculty Hearing Pool.

 

Members of the Faculty Hearing Pool with a real or apparent conflict of interest in a grievance will not serve on the FHP hearing that grievance. Any concerns from the grievant or respondent that a panel member has a conflict should be considered by the Chair of the FSCDRG, who will determine whether a panel member should be replaced. The five members elect a chair or facilitator from their members.

 

                (b.)  FHP Hearing

The following apply to a grievance hearing conducted by the FHP:

 

     1. Notification of the hearing and a copy of the formal written grievance will be promptly provided to each respondent by the Chair of the FSCDRG. Members of the FHP will also be given a copy of the formal written grievance.

 

     2. The hearing will occur at a specified time and place, not less than five (5) or more than ten (10) business days from the date the respondent(s) are provided with a copy of the formal written grievance. The grievant and each respondent are expected to attend the hearing.

 

     3.  The hearing will be conducted efficiently and will be limited to a maximum of one business day. It is intended to be informal and will not be conducted as if it is a civil trial. Formal rules of evidence will not apply. The panel may admit any evidence it considers pertinent to the grievance, and may exclude evidence it considers duplicative or not pertinent.

 

     4.  An audio recording of the hearing will be made and, upon request, a copy will be made available to the grievant, respondent, and provost without cost. The panel members may have access to the recording when considering and preparing their recommendation to the provost.

 

     5.  The grievant and each respondent will be given the opportunity to state their positions, present relevant evidence, and call witnesses. While the University will reasonably cooperate with the grievant as he/she secures witnesses and gathers evidence for the hearing, it is the grievant's responsibility to do so.

 

     6.  At the hearing, the party presenting the witness will conduct the direct examination and the other party will have the right to cross-examine. The Chair of the FHP may question any party or witness on behalf of the FHP and may authorize other FHP members to do the same.

 

     7.  The FSCDRG may promulgate more specific procedures to govern the conduct of the hearing and submission of evidence and argument.

 

     a.  For example, the FSCDRG must let the parties know that they have to provide a list of witnesses to the Panel on a particular date, with a copy to the other party.

     b.  The FSCDRG should also state that if both parties intend to call the same witness, all questions should be asked in one sitting, the person won’t be re-called.

     c.  Each party can give a statement of no more than ten minutes, and no closing arguments will be allowed.

 

     8.  Within ten (10) business days of completion of the hearing, the FHP will review      the evidence and prepare a written report with a summary of the hearing, findings, and a recommendation regarding the resolution of the grievance, including a summary of the evidence used. The FHP will only take into consideration the formal written grievance and evidence as submitted at the hearing. An FHP member who does not agree with the majority recommendation may make a note of this dissent. The FHP's written report and all other documents related to the grievance will be forwarded to the Provost. The report will also be provided to the grievant, respondent(s), and the Chair of the FSCDRG.

 

Level Five: If the grievance remains unresolved, the grievant may continue the process by requesting review and decision by the Provost. This request should be made in writing within ten (10) business days of receiving the FHP recommendation. It should include the original written grievance explaining the event(s) and remedy sought and a brief explanation as to why the grievance could not be resolved at lower levels. As soon as schedules permit, but no later than ten (10) business days after receipt of the written request, the Provost will review the grievance and recommendation of the FHP. Every effort will be made to the resolve the grievance at this level. Upon review of the documentation of earlier attempts at resolution and the FAP's recommendation, the Provost will make a final decision on the grievance and notify the grievant, and other pertinent parties as appropriate, in writing. This decision and notification will be made within ten (10) days of the meeting with the grievant, or within twenty (20) days after receipt of the written request for review if no meeting is held. While considering his/her decision, the Provost may consult other individuals as deemed necessary by the Provost, may meet with relevant parties, and review all documentation created throughout the grievance process, and/or request additional information in his/her discretion. The Provost's decision following the hearing is final and not subject to further appeal. The Provost will provide a written decision to the grievant and the Chair of the FSCDRG by the end of the fifth business day after the meeting occurs.

 

 

Revision History:

Established and archived prior to 1999

Edited by Academic Affairs 2010.

Reviewed by Academic Affairs December 2014.

Edited for web links, formatting and plain language. Approved December 2015.

Previously annotated as III.J Grievances. Renamed Grievances for alphabetical listing, grammar and spell check, and transitioned into policy library April 2017.

Major Revisions proposed as Faculty Senate Motion 2016-2017_14. Final version approved by Provost December 2017.