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XVI. Grievances

Grievance policies as discussed are relevant to all full- and part-time members of the College holding the status of teaching faculty.

A. Definitions

  1. A “grievance” is a complaint brought forward by a member of the faculty concerning a decision, action, or lack of action by a person or group of persons acting in an official capacity with the College, which directly and adversely affects the professional or personal well-being of the grievant, and which can be addressed and corrected or amended by the College.
  2. A “grievant” is a member of the faculty who has made a complaint that constitutes a grievance.
  3. A “respondent” is a member of the faculty who made the decision or took the action on behalf of the College that precipitated the grievance.
  4. College Faculty Appeals and Grievance Committee (CFAGC) is a standing committee of the faculty, the charge of which is to investigate a grievance and recommend to the Dean of Faculty (or President, as dictated by the nature of the filing) a recommended resolution.
  5. A “unit representative” is an individual, not belonging to the teaching faculty, who is designated to speak for a department or organizational unit of the College charged with causing or being instrumental to furtherance of a situation/set of circumstances being grieved.

B. Coverage

The policy affects any full- or part-time member of the College teaching faculty.

C. Non-Grievable Actions

These include:

  1. Termination of tenured, tenure-track, or probationary appointments in cases of proven financial exigency affecting the College as a whole (see Handbook on termination of faculty positions for reasons of financial exigency);
  2. Termination of tenured, tenure-track, or probationary appointments in cases relating to discontinuation of a discipline/department within the College;
  3. Compensation;
  4. Evaluation of performance;
  5. Non-reappointment or non-extension of appointment.

D. Procedure for Reporting a Grievance

  1. Filing the Grievance
    1. A faculty member with a grievance against another faculty member within his/her department shall present the grievance to the department chair.
    2. A faculty member with a grievance against another faculty member not in his/her department, with a grievance against his/her department chair, or with a policy or a practice of the department shall present the grievance to the Dean of Faculty.
    3. A faculty member with a grievance against the Dean of Faculty, or a College policy or procedure or the application thereof shall present the grievance to the President of the College.
  2. Attempt at Informal Resolution
    Conflicts frequently can be resolved if the parties involved communicate their concerns, listen to each other, and show a willingness to compromise and/or change. The Informal Grievance Resolution Process is designed to empower the parties to a Grievance to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.To begin the Informal Grievance Resolution Process, the Grievant must file a written statement of his or her concerns as dictated by the nature of the filing. This must be done within 15 Days from the date in which he or she first knew, or could reasonably be expected to know, of the alleged violation or within (30) business days from the most recent incident in a series of related incidents. The letter must include:

    • A description of the alleged impropriety, including the date it occurred and/or the date the Initiator became aware of the occurrence;
    • The College policy, procedure, standard, or established practice allegedly misinterpreted or violated if the concern is procedural in nature;
    • The name(s) of the person(s), if known, responsible for the alleged impropriety; and
    • The remedy sought.

The CFAGC will appoint one of its members to assist the parties in resolving the Grievance. The Informal Grievance Resolution Process will be concluded by one of the following:

  • A decision by the Grievant to stop further action on the Grievance.
  • A resolution of the Grievance by agreement of the parties.
  • Expiration of the time period allowed for the Informal Grievance Resolution Process.

    The Informal Grievance Resolution Process must be concluded within (5) business days from the appointment of the CFAGC member unless the parties mutually agree to extend the time for conclusion of the Informal Grievance Resolution Process, provided however, that it is not extended more than 10 additional business days.

  1. Formal Request to CFAGC
    Before a Formal Request to the CFAGC for a hearing can be made, a Grievant must try to resolve the Grievance through the Informal Grievance Resolution Process. A faculty member requesting a hearing by CFAGC shall present a written statement of charges to the Dean of Faculty. If the grievance is against the Dean of Faculty, or a College policy, decision, or action, then the statement of charges shall be presented to the President of the College.
  1. Statement of Charges, Preparation and Distribution
    The written statement of charges submitted by the grievant shall contain the following information and material in a form from which multiple legible copies may be easily reproduced and cannot contain any new concerns or complaints:

    1. A clear statement of the facts upon which the grievance is based, including an explanation of how the grievant alleges s/he has been adversely affected and the specific form of relief requested;
    2. Copies of all documents concerning the grievance sent or received during the informal grievance resolution process;
    3. Copies of all documents concerning the Grievance that the Grievant sent or received during the Informal Grievance Resolution
    4. Identification of the person(s) or the College policy or procedure considered responsible for the alleged adverse condition, action, or inaction upon which the grievance is based, and an explanation of why the person(s) charged is/are considered responsible or the College policy or procedure is considered improper;
    5. A copy of any pertinent Board of Visitors or College policies or regulations, Commonwealth statutes, contractual agreements, or other documents of custom and practice upon which the grievant relies; and
    6. A written statement prepared by each witness that the grievant would expect to call for a hearing in support of the This/these should summarize the information or evidence that the witness would testify to at a hearing. The grievant shall also identify any witnesses believed to have relevant information who have refused to prepare a written statement or to testify at a hearing and the nature of the relevant information at issue.
  1. Composition of the CFAGC
    The formal hearing shall be conducted by the CFAGC. The members on the Committee shall be members of the teaching faculty; no officer of the administration will serve on the committee. Prior to the Dean of Faculty turning the formal statement of charges over to the CFAGC, both the accused faculty member/unit representative and the grievant will have one opportunity, without stated cause, to challenge the membership of the CFAGC that will hear the grievance. This is the only time at which committee membership may be challenged. At this time (prior to disseminating the statement of charges), the recusal of any member(s) of the committee should also be determined. Any member of the CFAGC should remove him/herself from the case if s/he has or could reasonably be perceived to have a bias or conflict of interest. To prevent perception of bias or conflict of interest, any member will step down at the request of a majority of members of CFAGC who have not been removed by a challenge, and who perceive and justify for the record in written form a potential cause for charges of bias or conflict of interest regarding the committee member in question. The committee must have at least five (5) members to conduct the formal investigation. Replacement of the Committee members will be determined by the remaining members from a pool of elected and so-designated “back-up members.” When the Faculty Assembly conducts (annual staggered-term) elections for CFAGC membership, it will ensure the election of both five (5) active members, and five (5) “back-up members,” ranked by number in order of possible call to service. Should the existing chair of the committee (whose position shall be determined by vote from among the combined numbers of the committee members and back-up members) be removed through challenge or recusal, the five (5) committee members (the four original members, together with the first-ranked back-up member) shall elect a new chair to serve for the specific purpose of the formal hearing in question. No teaching faculty members in their first year of employment with the College shall serve as either committee members or back-up committee members. Ideally, no more than one-quarter of the members of the committee should be individuals holding single-year, renewable contracts of employment.
  1. Conduct of formal committee deliberations
    The Chair of CFAGC shall prepare and distribute a complete copy of the statement of charges to each member of the committee and to the President of the College.
  1. Confidentiality
    It is expected confidentiality will be maintained in the conduct of formal committee deliberations. Mere suspicion of wrongdoing, even if unjustified, is potentially damaging to the process. Information concerning any grievance proceedings should be available only to those with a right or need to know, and early in the proceeding, a written document filed with CFAGC to document the access to information of those with a right or need to know. (This may be revised as the process proceeds, with agreement of the CFAGC members, or for legal cause.) The record of such transactions will be maintained as part of the documentary filings related to the hearing.
  1. Preliminary review and decision
    The CFAGC shall, within fifteen (15) business days after receipt of the statement of charges, review the charges and determine a response. If the committee decides by a majority vote that the charges (a) do not constitute a grievance, (b) are frivolous or without merit, (c) do not involve actions taken by a person in an official capacity, or (d) cannot be addressed by an official College policy or procedural remedy, then the chair of the committee shall advise the grievant in writing of this finding with a copy provided to the President of the College. The action of the committee at this stage is final.
  1. Request for a reply to the Statement of Charges
    If the CFAGC determines to request a reply to the statement of charges, the chair shall advise the grievant and shall provide a complete copy of the statement of charges to each person against whom the complaint is made. If the grievance is against a departmental policy, decision, or action, rather than against the action of an individual, the department chair shall represent the department against which the grievance is made. If the grievance is against a College policy, decision, or action, rather than against the action of an individual, the appropriate dean or a representative appointed by the President of the College shall represent the relevant institutional unit against which the grievance is made.
  1. Reply to the Statement of Charges
    Upon receipt of the statement of charges, the person(s) against whom or representing the unit against which the grievance is made shall, if s/he wishes to reply, have fifteen (15) business days to present a response to the charges to the chair of the CFAGC. The response shall be in writing and shall include:

    1. A full statement of the position taken by the person(s)/institutional units against whom the grievance has been made with respect to the charge;
    2. Any commentary the cited party/ies may wish to offer concerning any of the documents contained in the statement of charges submitted by the grievant and any pertinent documents or materials upon which the respondent(s) relied; and
    3. A written statement prepared by each witness that the respondent would expect to call for the hearing in response to the grievance that summarizes the information or evidence that the witness would testify to at a The respondent may also identify any witnesses believed to have relevant information who have refused to prepare a written statement or to testify at a hearing and the nature of the relevant information at issue. Within five (5) business days after receipt of the response to the statement of charges from the party/ies against whom the grievance has been made, the chair of the committee shall have prepared and distributed to the grievant and to each member of CFAGC a complete copy of the response.
  1. Review of Reply to the Statement of Charges, and Decision
    Should all members of the CFAGC, after reading the statement of charges and the response thereto, determine that there are sufficient grounds to recommend a remedy or a correction without conducting a full hearing, then the committee shall by formal resolution offer its recommendation for the remedy or correction to be taken to address the grievance. (The committee may also recommend that no corrective action should be taken.) The committee’s recommendation shall be promptly transmitted, in writing, to the parties concerned, and to the President of the College, and if approved by the President, the action shall be final. If the committee determines that a hearing should be held, the chair of the CFAGC shall schedule a hearing by the committee to begin no later than fifteen (15) business days after the distribution date of the response to the statement of charges.
  1. Pre-Hearing Conference
    At least ten (10) business days before the hearing, the CFAGC will hold, with all parties present, a pre-hearing conference to define the issues involved and to resolve procedural matters for the hearing.. For instance, the committee will inform both parties of their option to request the right to call witnesses for the hearing. Such witnesses will be expected to submit written statements to the Committee as part of the request. The committee may also choose to call witnesses based on its deliberations of the facts to this point.
  1. Procedure for the Hearing
    The hearing shall be conducted according to the following procedures:

    1. Attendees
      The hearing shall be private, with only the parties involved, witnesses, counsel, advisers, designated observers, and members of the committee present, except that, with mutual agreement by the grievant and the party/ies against whom the grievance is made, the hearing may be made public;
    2. Record of Hearing
      The full and complete hearing shall be recorded by and for the committee; and
    3. Conduct of Hearing
      The hearing shall be convened and conducted by the CFAGC chair. Counsels, advisers, or other observers may not speak or participate; they are to silently observe the proceedings. The purpose of the hearing is to allow the committee to complete its work of determining a recommendation, given the charge(s) made, which may require further fact-finding through questioning of the parties or other witnesses. In principle, the facts will already have been presented in writing from both sides. The hearing provides the committee the opportunity to clarify issues by asking questions of either or both parties and to hear from witnesses it believes in possession of knowledge or material pertinent to the case. The committee will afford both the grievant and the accused opportunity to provide a five-minute statement at the outset of the Hearing, should either party choose to do so, and it reserves the opportunity of asking questions of them at that time. Either party may make a written request no less than five (5) business days in advance of the hearing to call and interrogate witnesses, if either believes that such witnesses will bring new and important information to the committee’s attention. The reasons for the need for such witnesses must be provided in the written request, along with a statement from each witness. The committee will rule on requests to call witnesses at least two (2) business days before the hearing begins. The committee will afford both the grievant and the accused the opportunity to provide a five-minute statement at the conclusion of the hearing, should either choose to do so, and it reserves the option of asking questions of them at the time.
  1. Order of Hearing Activities
    The general outline of a hearing (with all possible steps included) would follow this procedure:

    1. Convening of the hearing by the CFAGC committee chair;
    2. Opening statement by grievant;
    3. Opening statement by respondent to the grievance;
    4. Questions by the committee to clarify issues raised in the written materials, including witness statements, and points raised by the two opening statements;
    5. Witnesses called by the grievant (questions by the committee and the respondent would follow the witness’s initial responses to questions asked by the grievant;
    6. Witnesses called by the respondent (questions by the committee and the grievant would follow the witness’s initial responses to questions asked by the respondent;
    7. Witnesses called by the committee (questions by the grievant and the respondent would follow each witness’s initial responses to questions asked by the committee;
    8. Closing statement by the grievant;
    9. Closing statement by the respondent to the grievance, and
    10. Committee adjourns to deliberate and reach a decision.
  2. Decision
    After all testimony has been presented, the chair of CFAGC shall recess the hearing, and the committee shall go into closed session to determine its findings and prepare its report and recommendations. If the grievance is against an individual faculty member and s/he is found by the committee to be responsible, the CFAGC may make recommendations for handling the problem to the President of the College.
  3. Distribution of the Decision
    Within ten (10) business days of the recess of the hearing, the CFAGC shall present its written report and recommendations, showing the vote of the committee on the recommendations, to the Dean of Faculty and to all parties to the hearing. The report shall provide a summary of the facts presented in the hearing and the reasons for the committee recommendations.The Grievant and the Respondent(s) each have the right to appeal the decision made by CFAGC to the Dean of Faculty. Such appeal must be in writing and filed within (10) business days of receipt of the CFAGC written report. Decisions not appealed within such time are deemed final and the CFAGC report shall be forwarded to the President of The College.If the Dean of Faculty participated in the hearing or was a party to the Grievance, the President must appoint another College Faculty member or Administrator (designee) not associated with the Grievance to accept and decide the appeal.The Dean of Faculty (or designee as assigned by the President) must make a determination on the appeal within 10 Days. Such determination will be communicated in writing to the Grievant, the Respondent(s), members of CFAGC, and the President of the College. Within fifteen (15) business days after receipt of the committee’s report and recommendations or the written appeal determination, the President of the College shall communicate, in writing, to the parties involved and to each member of the committee, his/her acceptance or rejection, in whole or in part, of the recommendations/determination.

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