Faculty General Grievance Procedure

Purpose

A22B

The purpose of this procedure is to assure fairness and consistency in faculty employee relations and to resolve misunderstandings as quickly as possible. No employee will be discriminated against because he/she uses this procedure.

Faculty Coverage

A28J

For purposes of this procedure, employees are full time and part-time faculty. Staff with faculty rank and administrative staff with faculty rank may choose either the faculty or staff procedure.

Issue Coverage

A33E

Grievable Issues

  • Disciplinary actions, including written warnings placed in the employee's file, suspensions, and dismissal, where the employee questions the appropriateness of the stated actions except hearings conducted by Academic Council under Faculty Bylaws I-5, Article VI.
  • Alleged violation, misinterpretation, or inequitable application of the University policy affecting the employee
  • Alleged violation of the professional boundaries policy. (Note: Students who wish to issue a complaint of the professional boundaries policy against a faculty or staff member should use the process identified in the Student Handbook for addressing such violations.)

Non-Grievable Issues

  • Issues heard by Academic Council under Faculty Bylaws (I-5, Article VI, Section 3)
  • Issues heard by the Tenure/Promotion Appeal Hearing Board and the Continuance Appeal Hearing Board.
  • Determinations of responsibility for discrimination and harassment based on membership in protected categories in Elon’s non-discrimination statement and any sanctions resulting from such determinations
  • Termination related to: reduction in force or expiration of grants, failure to receive tenure, failure to receive a continuing contract, and expiration of employment contracts
  • The content of published personnel policies and procedure

Procedures for Grievance of Items Listed Above (General Grievance Procedure)

A29M

Step One – Discussion

  • Discussion with the grievant's Department Chair/supervisor should normally take place first in an attempt to resolve the matter. In some cases, input from an administrative unit (for example, Dean, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs) and/or the independent Faculty Ombudsperson may be appropriate and helpful. The grievant and/or Department Chair/supervisor may wish to contact such a person.
  • If the Department Chair/supervisor is involved in the matter or has a conflict of interest related to the matter, a second person, selected by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, will assist in attempting to resolve the matter.
  • Efforts to resolve the matter at this step will be expeditious.

Step Two – Written Statement and Investigation

  1. If the grievant is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance at step one, the grievant will, within 30 calendar days after the event giving rise to the grievance, submit a written statement of grievance to his/her/their Department Chair/supervisor or the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs's substitute.
  2. Upon receipt of the grievance at this stage, the Department Chair/supervisor or substitute will notify the Executive Director of Human Resources, who may contact the University legal counsel in order to help assure that the grievance procedure is followed carefully.
  3. The Department Chair/supervisor or substitute will investigate and attempt to resolve the grievance. This investigation may include a meeting between the Department Chair/supervisor or substitute, appropriate Dean, the grievant, and any other appropriate personnel.
  4. A written response will be given to the grievant within 14 calendar days after receipt of the written grievance by the Department Chair/supervisor or substitute unless the grievant agrees to an extension of this time period.

Step Three – Appeal to Dean

If the grievant is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance at step two, or if no decision has been rendered within 14 calendar days of the Department Chair’s/supervisor's or substitute's receipt of the grievance at step two, the grievant may request the Dean of the Department Chair’s/supervisor's college/school or division to begin processing the grievance at step three.

Appeals are not re-investigations. The decision will be based on the written appeal and the Investigative Report from Step Two. However, if substantial new facts are discovered, then the Dean may wish to investigate the recently learned information.

A written response will be given to the grievant within 14 calendar days after receipt of the written grievance by the Dean unless the grievant agrees to an extension of this time period.

 

Step Four – Administrative Intervention

  1. If the grievant is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance at step three, or if no decision has been rendered within 14 calendar days of the Dean’s receipt of the grievance, the grievant may request that the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs begin processing the grievance at step four.
  2. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, with the support of the Executive Director of Human Resources, will arrange for a hearing to be conducted by a three-member committee of full-time teaching faculty, administrator(s) with faculty rank, and/or staff with faculty rank including:
    • One member selected by the grievant
    • One member selected by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
    • One current member of Academic Council selected by both the grievant and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

If the first two members are unable to agree on the selection of a third member, they will alternately eliminate names from Academic Council until they reach the last name, at which time that person will become the third committee member. First elimination is to be determined by the toss of a coin.

  1. The committee selected above will select a Chair from among its members by majority vote. If no member receives a majority, the member chosen from Academic Council will be Chair. The Chair, with support provided from the Director of Human Resources, will be responsible for determining how the facts relative to the grievance will be investigated. The Chair will also determine whether a formal hearing is required. If such a hearing is held, the grievant may be accompanied at the hearing by a University employee of his or her choosing. Only University employees may accompany a grievant in a grievance hearing. Reasonable provision will be made for other employees to appear as witnesses.
  2. The investigation by the three-member committee should normally be completed within one month of its formation. Within 21 calendar days of the completion of the investigation, the recommendation of a majority of the committee, along with their findings of fact, will be submitted to the President.
  3. The President, after reviewing the findings and recommendations and any other evidence considered relevant, will make a final decision which will then be communicated to the grievant.

The Hearing Committee

A26M

Information below in italics is repeated from the Elon University Faculty Bylaws (Article VI).

“Elected members of Academic Council will serve as a hearing committee, when a hearing is to be held, in cases involving 1) the dismissal or suspension of a faculty member or 2) charges of unprofessional conduct against a faculty member with the exception of complaints of harassment or discrimination based on membership in protected categories in Elon’s nondiscrimination statement. Any dismissal, suspension, or disciplinary action as a result of a finding of a violation of the University’s nondiscrimination/ nonharassment policies may, upon request by the accused faculty member, be heard by Academic Council.”

Academic Council has adopted the following procedures for use when it sits as a hearing body for any employee with faculty rank:

  • The person requesting the hearing (the grievant) may present the grievance and/or he/she may be represented by any other faculty member he/she selects.
  • Any other person who considers himself/herself to be directly affected by the hearing may apply to Academic Council to be made a party. Those granted such status by Academic Council will have the same rights to representation and presentation of evidence as the grievant. The administration, or people complained against, will be parties to the hearing.
  • Parties to the hearing will be afforded opportunity to present written or oral evidence and may call witnesses to present evidence.
  • During the course of presentation of evidence, members of the hearing body may interject questions as considered necessary.
  • All sessions will be open only to parties to the hearing, their representatives, and to witnesses while they are testifying.
  • After all testimony has been heard, Academic Council will meet in executive session to formulate its recommendations.
  • In reaching its decision, Academic Council will consider only documents, materials and testimony presented in the hearing.
  • Recommendations of Academic Council as to disposition of the case will be made to the President of the University with a copy of same to each party.
  • During and after the hearing, members of Academic Council will make no comment regarding the case beyond those made in meetings of the Council.

Grievance Procedure for Alleged Violations of the Professional Boundaries Policy

A27D

Faculty who are found to be in violation of the Professional Boundaries Policy and who wish to contest the finding should follow the faculty’s general grievance policy.

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