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Employment at Smith (Chapter 2)

Grievance Procedure (Section 212)

This grievance procedure is provided for exempt/administrative and nonexempt/ administrative support staff of the college recognizing that, from time to time, various problems occur involving work relationships and conditions of employment. In order to ensure that staff members' grievances receive full consideration, this procedure is a method of review and appeal for the resolution of such grievances. The college recognizes that staff members have the right to file complaints with various federal and state agencies. However, the college has established this internal procedure with the expectation that it will provide an effective means of resolving grievances without the necessity of federal or state remedies.

A staff member should feel free to discuss any problem informally with his/her supervisor or department head, or the staff in the Office of Human Resources, at any time without the discussion being considered part of a formal grievance procedure. However, at such time as a staff member wishes his/her problem to be considered formally by the college, he/she will follow the procedure described below.

This procedure applies to all grievable issues (with the exception of sexual harassment) which involve the work conditions and relationships within a department and/or the interpretation and application to individuals of general employment policies and procedures. The actual terms of employment policies and employee benefit plans are not matters to be covered by this procedure. Where a question exists as to whether a particular matter is covered by this procedure, the Associate Vice President for Human Resources will refer the matter to Senior Staff members for determination. Application of the procedure will be denied only where the matter is not a grievable issue or is one in which the grievant has no direct interest, or in other circumstances in which the use of this procedure would clearly endanger its effectiveness as a means for review and appeal of staff members' grievances. The grievance procedure is not available to new staff during the orientation and review period. Voluntary resignations are not subject to the grievance procedure.

A decision issued at any one step of the procedure will be final and binding for that grievance unless the grievant initiates an appeal to the next step. In the event that an employee does not receive a decision within the prescribed time limits, the failure to respond will be considered a denial of the grievance and he/she may proceed to the next step. However, the time limits described in any step may be extended by mutual consent between the parties concerned. Written responses by any of the concerned parties should be mailed on the day they are dated.

Retaliatory action of any kind taken by any employee (e.g., department head, supervisor, or co-worker) against any other employee as a result of that person's seeking redress under this procedure, cooperating in any inquiry, or otherwise participating in any proceedings under this procedure is prohibited. Any such retaliatory action will be the basis for a separate grievance.

Steps in the Grievance Procedure

The first three steps in this grievance procedure are informal efforts to resolve problems where they arise and with the parties directly involved; the fourth and fifth steps provide a means of further appeal to the Administrative or Administrative Support Staff Grievance Committees and to the President of the college. The staff member may be accompanied and represented by another individual at Step 3 or 4 of this procedure. He/she must include the name of that representative in the written requests submitted to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources (i.e., in the request for a Step 3 interview and/or in the request for a Step 4 hearing).

An employee will follow the steps in the order described below; however, the Office of Human Resources may be contacted directly if, for the particular grievance, it seems inappropriate to discuss the problem with the supervisor or department head. Also, the Office of Human Resources may be contacted at any time for additional information, guidance, or assistance in interpreting any part of this grievance procedure.

Step 1: Within 30 calendar days of the incident or action causing the problem, the employee will discuss the complaint with the immediate supervisor who, in some cases, will be the department head. The supervisor will provide the grievant with a brief written summary of the problem and a response to it within five calendar days following the meeting. (If the immediate supervisor is the department head, the next step in this procedure is Step 3; otherwise, Step 2 applies.)

Step 2: If the supervisor's reply does not resolve the problem to the employee's satisfaction, he/she may submit a written description of the complaint to the department head within five calendar days from the date of the supervisor's written response. The department head will discuss the situation with the staff member and will provide the grievant with a written response within seven calendar days following receipt of the written description of the complaint.

Step 3: If the department head's response does not resolve the problem to the employee's satisfaction, or if the Office of Human Resources has made a decision which is not satisfactory to the staff member, he/she may request that the complaint be reviewed by the Associate Vice President for Human Resources. This request detailing the complaint must be submitted in writing to the Associate Vice President within seven calendar days from the date of the department head's written response. The Associate Vice President will attempt to resolve the problem with all parties concerned within 14 days following receipt of the grievance. If the problem is resolved, the Associate Vice President will issue a written summary of the matter with copies to all parties concerned. If no resolution is achieved, the Associate Vice President will so inform all parties in writing.

Step 4: (a) If the grievance has not been resolved by the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, the staff member may request to have the grievance heard by the members of the Administrative or Administrative Support Staff Grievance Committees. The request to the appropriate committee must be submitted via the Office of Human Resources within 14 calendar days from the date of the Associate Vice President's written statement in Step 3. The request will include the following:

  1. a description of the incident or action which caused the complaint and specifically what the complaint is;
  2. what the staff member considers to be a satisfactory resolution of the matter;
  3. the name of the representative if the staff member has decided to be accompanied and represented by another individual at the Grievance Committee hearing.

(b) Within seven days of receipt of the request for a hearing, the full committee will hold a preliminary meeting to review the grievance and determine whether the grievance merits a full hearing. If the committee decides that a hearing is warranted, it will designate a time and place for a hearing and all parties will be notified. During that hearing, the committee will review the entire case, may seek additional relevant information, and may interview any of the parties involved. The grievant or his/her representative will have the right to present information (both in writing and through witnesses) and to question others who have provided information.

The committee will issue written findings and recommendations within a reasonable time with copies to all parties concerned.

Step 5: The findings and recommendations of the Grievance Committee will be submitted to the President for review and final decision. The President may approve, disapprove, or modify the committee's recommendations or may remand the case back to the committee for further investigation. The President will issue a decision in writing with copies to all parties concerned. This decision is final and binding within the college.

The Administrative and Administrative Support Staff Grievance Committees

Each consists of five members from the administrative and administrative support staff; membership on these committees is limited to regular full-time staff members. The five members of each committee will be appointed by the President on the following basis: four members will be selected by the President -- two selected from staff nominations and two of her own choosing -- with the fifth member selected by the other four. In the event that no nominations are received from the staff, the President will select four members of her own choosing. The five members will serve staggered terms of three years each and will select a chair to serve for a term of one year. Should one or more of the members be directly involved in a particular grievance, the President will appoint a substitute(s) for the purpose of hearing that grievance.

The names and terms of current members of the Administrative and Administrative Support Staff Grievance Committees are updated annually.