2.5 Grievance Procedure
Adopted 1982, amended 1986, 2008
Members of the faculty may invoke this grievance procedure in disputes arising out of either of the following:
- A decision of the administration to terminate the faculty member's appointment, whether limited or unlimited, prior to the expiration of its term, or not to reappoint the faculty member to the faculty.
- A faculty member's belief that the faculty member's academic freedom has been infringed, the faculty member has been unfairly treated in matters of professional life.
Allegations of discriminations of any form (age, ancestry, disability, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation) are initially handled through the office of the Equal Opportunity Coordinator. If a faculty member feels that his or her case of discrimination was not adequately resolved through the EOO's office, only then may he or she invoke the grievance procedures described here.
The purpose of this grievance procedure is to provide means whereby an aggrieved faculty member may obtain a hearing before a well-informed, disinterested body of peers elected by the faculty for that purpose. The Grievance Committee, in order to be well-informed, will have access to all relevant information in the control of the offices of the College. The function of the grievance procedure is to determine whether a grievance is well-founded and to make recommendations regarding the resolution of disputes.
This grievance procedure shall not be applicable to, nor shall the committee have jurisdiction to hear, any dispute which is the subject of any legal action or complaint against the administration or the College filed by or on behalf of the aggrieved faculty member in any court of law or before any governmental agency. If any such legal action or complaint is instituted or filed after the commencement of the grievance proceedings described herein, those proceedings shall be terminated immediately.
Any grievance shall be brought first to the President or Provost, the choice of which to be made by the aggrieved. The President or Provost will seek to resolve the dispute informally by consultation with the faculty member, the faculty member's department chair, and others whose knowledge or experience may be of help in achieving a mutually satisfactory settlement of the dispute. The President or Provost will report the substance of this informal consultation to the faculty member in writing.
Any grievance shall be brought first to the President or Provost, the choice of which to be made by the aggrieved.
If the informal consultation does not resolve the grievance, the aggrieved faculty member must then submit to mediation through the agency of the Grievance Committee. After consideration of the written report of informal consultation and consultation with the faculty member, the chair of the Grievance Committee will ask the College's ombudsperson to serve as the mediator who will attempt to resolve the dispute. The mediator will consult with the parties directly involved and, where relevant, request that the documents upon which the decision was based be made available to the aggrieved faculty member, accompanied by an advisor from the College faculty or administration, if the aggrieved faculty member desires, to examine the evidence, with personal identification removed, upon which the action or decision was based. The role of the advisor in the mediation process is to ask clarifying questions and to advise the aggrieved, not to present a case on the aggrieved's behalf. After consulting the documents, the aggrieved faculty member may either withdraw the grievance, or go forward with the mediation conducted by the mediator in a manner agreed upon by the participants. Information acquired by the mediator in the course of the inquiry will not be divulged to anyone except the parties directly involved and will not become part of any subsequent formal hearing of the Grievance Committee.
The Mediation Process
The purpose of mediation is to build consensus toward a resolution of the dispute between the parties in an informal setting. To that end, the mediator provides the parties with a safe process that encourages them to share their perspectives about what happened and to develop a strategy for moving forward. It is crucial that the parties in mediation understand that they are not there to present evidence to prove who is right or wrong. Rather, the parties are asked to collaborate to find a solution to their joint problem.
Mediation is based on the principles of neutrality and confidentiality. Therefore, the mediator acts as a disinterested third party, not as an advocate for the College or any other party, and the mediator agrees not to disclose any information about the mediation to outside parties. Likewise, the parties will be asked to consent to confidentiality as well.
Mediation will follow the seven stage model that is widely applied in conflict resolution settings. Participants can expect a mediation session to last three hours on average.
The Model: Seven Stages of Mediation
- Introduction: The mediator and parties are introduced. The mediator’s role is explained. Ground rules are set, and the role of the advisor is clarified.
- Telling the Stories/Determining Problems: Each party tells his or her version of the events, uninterrupted by the other party. The mediator asks targeted questions to identify specific problem behaviors as well as the effects of those behaviors on the parties.
- Summarizing: The mediator summarizes the stories of the initiator and respondent to confirm an accurate understanding of the relevant information while focusing attention away from those portions of the stories that do not directly play a role in resolving the conflict.
- Identifying Issues and Interests: During this stage, the mediator will identify specific problems with the intention of identifying the central issues and interests at stake. The mediator will then present the identified issues and interests to the parties.
- Generating and Evaluating Alternatives: The parties brainstorm or trade proposals to develop a range of solutions aimed at addressing the underlying needs/interests of the parties. They will then evaluate the alternatives in terms of their implications, consequences and workability, and how well they address the needs/interests of the parties.
- Agreement: If the parties are able to agree to one of the solutions proposed in stage 5, then the mediator will help the parties write an agreement that memorializes the resolution.
- Closure: If an agreement was reached, the mediator will encourage the parties to comply with the agreement, following up with them at time intervals determined by the parties.
In the case of failure of other efforts to resolve the dispute, the faculty member may request the participation of the Grievance Committee by submitting a written grievance to the chair of the committee, with a copy to the President or the Provost.
Upon receipt of the statement of grievance, the chair of the committee will convene a meeting of the committee for the purpose of constituting a Hearing Panel ("the Panel") to consider the case. Before this meeting, the chair will consult with the parties to the dispute to determine if they believe that any members of the committee ought to be excluded from the Panel for reason of interest or bias. At its first meeting, the committee will select three of its members to consider the case and name one of them chair of the Panel.
The Panel will conduct a preliminary investigation in order to determine whether the evidence warrants a grievance hearing. At the request of the Panel, the administration and/or faculty members who are parties in the dispute will make available to it all relevant evidence in their possession pertaining to the grievance. The Panel may consult with the aggrieved faculty member, the President, the Provost, the EOO if the grievance includes issues of discrimination, and such other persons who may be of assistance. The Panel will then meet in order to determine whether there is a prima facie case warranting a hearing.
In order to dismiss a case on the ground that no substantial evidence supports the claim of the aggrieved faculty member, the Panel must decide by unanimous vote. In cases where there are multiple points of grievance, the Panel may decide by unanimous vote to dismiss some points of the grievance depending on the substance of the evidence supporting each point. The chair of the Panel will notify in writing the parties to the dispute, the President, the Provost, and the EOO if the grievance includes issues of discrimination, of its decision, and, if it decides to proceed to a full hearing, of the time and place of such a hearing.
The Grievance Panel is charged with the responsibility of conducting a full, fair, and impartial hearing of the dispute. The purpose of the hearing is to inform the Panel about the dispute in a thorough manner. The Panel shall conduct the hearing in whatever informal manner will most efficiently serve this end. However, the conduct of the hearing must be consistent with the following provisions:
The committee will hold in strict confidence all information provided by the parties to the dispute and all testimony made during the course of the grievance procedure. The A. Panel will not be required to make a record of the proceedings, and only the Panel may make a verbatim record for the purpose of reviewing testimony. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the Panel will, when possible, return all documentary evidence to its source. All other documents, records, and notes will be destroyed in a manner designed to preserve their confidentiality.
B. The Panel, the President, the Provost, and all parties directly involved in the dispute will have the right to call and present witnesses and to demand and supply documentary evidence. Neither the Panel nor the parties to the dispute will be bound by legal rules of evidence, but will have the right to present witnesses and confront and question all witnesses.
C. The hearing will be closed to the public, and the parties will not be represented by legal counsel. The President, the Provost, the parties directly involved in the dispute as determined by the chair of the Panel, and the EOO if the grievance includes issues of discrimination are entitled to attend the hearing. At the request of the aggrieved faculty member, a representative of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) may attend the hearing as an observer. Also, the aggrieved faculty member may be accompanied by an advisor chosen from the College faculty or administration. The role of the advisor in the hearing is to ask clarifying questions and to advise the aggrieved, not to present a case on the aggrieved's behalf.
The Hearing Process
Grievance hearings will proceed in the following fashion. The Panel can deviate from this order of proceedings if circumstances dictate and all involved parties agree.
- The panel meets with the aggrieved, the advisor from the faculty or administration (if present), and those against whom the grievance was filed, hereinafter referred to as the respondent(s).
- The aggrieved presents his or her case.
- The panel questions the aggrieved.
- The respondent(s) presents their case.
- The panel questions the respondent(s).
- The panel, aggrieved, and respondent(s) ask questions of each other to clarify issues introduced during the presentation of cases and the initial rounds of questioning.
- Any witnesses for the aggrieved present their testimony and evidence. Witnesses will be sequestered and introduced individually.
- The panel and respondent(s) question the witnesses of the aggrieved.
- Any witnesses for the respondent(s) present their testimony and evidence. Witnesses will be sequestered and introduced individually.
- The panel and aggrieved question the witnesses of the respondent(s).
- The aggrieved delivers a closing statement.
- The respondent(s) delivers a closing statement.
D. In cases involving the termination of an appointment prior to the expiration of its term, the administration shall have the burden of establishing adequate cause for such termination.
E. All actions of the Panel will be taken by a majority vote of the three members constituting the Panel in a particular case.
After the conclusion of the hearing, the three members of the Panel will meet in a closed session to review all information presented during the hearing and make a determination of the case. This determination will be made by a majority vote of the three members of the Panel. In cases in which no two members can concur, the Panel will simply state that it could make no determination. The Panel will make a written statement of its determination and its recommendations. Copies of this document will be transmitted to the President, the Provost, the aggrieved, the respondents and to the EOO if the grievance includes issues of discrimination.
This document will include a determination of the merits of the aggrieved faculty member's claims and explicit recommendations about the form of compensation, if any, appropriate to a settlement of the dispute. These recommendations are subject to the following restrictions:
A. In cases arising from the termination of a faculty member's appointment, or the decision not to reappoint a faculty member with or without limit, the Panel will not conduct an evaluation of the faculty member, but will be limited to determining whether the administration complied with the applicable policies and procedures of the College, whether the dossier compiled for the purposes of evaluation was properly constituted, and whether the evidence compiled in the dossier was reasonably interpreted. In such cases the Panel's recommendations will be limited to advising the President whether a new evaluation of the faculty member ought to be conducted.
B. If the grievance includes a claim of discrimination, the Panel will determine whether the evidence and testimony of the hearing reasonably support the claim of discrimination.
C. The President must accept or reject the recommendation of the Panel within one week.
If the College accepts the recommendation of the Panel, the case is closed. The Grievance Committee, the aggrieved, the respondents, the EOO if the grievance includes issues of discrimination, and the Executive Committee will all receive notice from the President of the resolution of the dispute, as well as a projection of how and when the College will carry out the Panel's recommendation.
If the College does not accept the Panel's recommendation, the President will meet with a member of the Panel and another member of the Grievance Committee to negotiate a fair settlement. This meeting must take place within fifteen (15) days after the submission of the Panel's recommendation. The participating member of the Grievance Committee, within five (5) days of the meeting, will make a written report of the outcome, sending copies to the President, the aggrieved, the respondents, the Grievance Committee, the EOO if the grievance includes issues of discrimination, and the Executive Committee.
The President, also within five (5) days, will send a parallel report to the aggrieved, the respondents, the Grievance Committee, the EOO in cases involving discrimination, and the Executive Committee. The President's report will convey his or her understanding of the decision made at the meeting as well as a projection of how and when the College will carry out that decision.
A. A request for informal consultation shall be made by the aggrieved faculty member within thirty (30) days of the occasion of the dispute.
B. After the informal consultation, the aggrieved faculty member has fifteen (15) days to request mediation by the College's ombudsman.
C. The mediation will commence within thirty (30) days of the request by the aggrieved.
D. In case of failure of mediation, the aggrieved faculty member shall request a formal hearing by the Grievance Committee within fifteen (15) days of the completion of mediation.
E. The Panel shall complete its preliminary investigation and give notice of its determination to the parties involved within fifteen (15) days after the receipt of the request for a formal hearing.
F. If the Panel proceeds to a formal hearing, the hearing shall be held no more than fifteen (15) days after notification of the decision to hold a formal hearing.
G. The Panel shall render its written determination within five (5) days of the conclusion of the formal hearing.
H. The President will respond to the Panel's recommendation within one (1) week of his or her receipt of the Panel's written determination.
I. If the President rejects the initial recommendation, a meeting to negotiate a settlement will be held within fifteen (15) days of the submission of the Panel's written determination.
J. The member of the Grievance Committee who participated in the settlement negotiation as well as the President will each submit a report of that negotiation within five (5) days of the meeting.
K. The chair of the Grievance Committee, after consultation with the parties directly involved, may suspend the time limitations listed in above items E, F, and I.