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7.11 Hearing Procedures for Grievances

Approved by Academic Council, Administration

When a hearing is called for by section 7.10.6, the Grievance Committee shall comply with the procedures described in this section.

7.11.1 Definition of Faculty Grievances   Revised April 16, 2014
The allegation by a faculty member
1. that University policy, procedure, or rules have been violated and that the violation has caused substantial consequences, or
2. that such a faculty member has been otherwise treated inequitably by the University in relation with others with substantial consequences

is an appropriate matter for the filing of a grievance by a faculty member. A grievance may challenge an act or failure to act by an administrative officer that directly and adversely affects the faculty member as an individual in his or her professional or academic capacity. The grievance process may not be used to challenge a policy of general applicability on the ground that it is unfair or inadvisable, nor may it be used for minor matters unless such acts are part of a pattern of inequitable treatment. A grievance by a faculty member shall be filed with the Chair of the Grievance Committee, who shall designate and refer the grievance for consideration as described below to a three-member panel Campus Advisory Committee on Grievances, at least one of whom may serve as faculty in the same college or department as the aggrieved party and at least one of whom shall serve as faculty in a college or department different from that of the aggrieved party.

7.11.2 Informal Resolution and Screening of Faculty Grievances   Revised April 16, 2014

The Advisory Committee shall assess whether the grievance raises a prima facie case based on the criteria described in section 7.11.1 above and consider whether it has a reasonable possibility of being sustained on the merits by a hearing panel. To this effect, the Advisory Committee may conduct a preliminary factual investigation and shall, upon request, have access to all relevant records kept by the university and all its units, provided such access to this information would not violate privacy laws.

When the Advisory Committee deems it appropriate, the Advisory Committee may in coordination of the Chair of the Grievance Committee recommend an equitable resolution of a dispute without resort to a hearing. If the recommendation is accepted by the parties every attempt should be made by the Chair of the Grievance Committee in coordination with the Advisory Committee to promote an equitable resolution of the dispute.

Every attempt shall be made by the Advisory Committee, in coordination with the Chair of the Grievance Committee, to promote the equitable resolution of disputes without resort to a hearing.  The Chair of the Grievance Committee alone may communicate with the appropriate University authority, complaining party or his/her representatives during this stage of the process.  Informal resolutions should be documented with a letter from the Chair of the Grievance Committee.

If unable to bring about the informal resolution of a grievance, the Advisory Committee shall produce a brief written report with its preliminary findings reached by at least a simple majority.  The report shall contain the Advisory Committee's reasoned conclusions as to whether the grievance raises a matter described in section 7.11.1 and whether it has a reasonable possibility of being sustained on the merits. If the report concludes that the grievance does satisfy these conditions, the matter shall be referred to the Grievance Committee for a possible hearing. The Chair of the Grievance Committee shall inform the faculty member about the further procedures applicable to such matters.  No grievance shall go forward to a hearing unless the Advisory Committee decides that it raises a matter described in section 7.11.1, and that it has a reasonable possibility of being sustained on its merits. Unless an extension is granted by the Chair of the Grievance Committee upon a showing of good cause, the Advisory Committee shall make its decision within 45 days of the referral of the grievance. The members of an Advisory Committee considering a matter shall not participate as advocates or as Hearing Panel members at any later stage of the proceeding. The Hearing Committee, however, may seek clarification about the findings in the written report, including the investigative steps taken by the Advisory Committee.

7.11.3
A hearing panel shall not be bound by formal rules of evidence.

7.11.4 The faculty member bringing the grievance shall have the burden of proving it. Both the faculty member and the University shall be permitted to present evidence, to examine all evidence presented, to confront and question all witnesses, and to present arguments orally and in writing. The faculty member may act on his or her own behalf, or may utilize the assistance of another faculty member. The Provost shall designate the University employee or employees who will participate on behalf of the University. Proceedings shall be tape recorded. Absent the agreement of the parties, the hearing shall be open only to those directly involved in the proceedings.

7.11.5 After the hearing, the panel shall promptly prepare a report containing its findings, conclusions, and recommendation, which shall be transmitted to the parties, to the Provost, and to the Chair of the Grievance Committee. Unless an extension is granted by the Chair of the Grievance Committee upon a showing of good cause, the hearing panel shall forward its report within 30 days of the end of the hearing.

7.11.6 The Provost shall review the panel’s report and decide upon the action to be taken. The Provost shall implement the recommendation of the hearing panel unless the Provost finds compelling reasons for adopting a different result. In such an event, the Provost shall issue a written decision stating the considerations that justify departing from the recommendation of the hearing panel.