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II - 4.00 - Policy and Procedures on Faculty Grievance

I. Policy and Purpose

Legitimate problems, differences of opinion, conflicts, or complaints sometimes arise in the relationship between the University as an employer and its faculty. Both the faculty member with a grievance and the University benefit when the University responds to grievances promptly and fairly. Many such complaints can be resolved through informal discussions or formally through procedures available under the University Policy on Appointment, Rank and Tenure of Faculty, or through various institutional procedures governing complaints of discrimination or sexual harassment. When complaints arise that cannot be resolved informally or through other university procedures, the procedures herein are available to faculty members to handle grievances in a timely, consistent, and reasonable manner. Grievant will not be reprimanded or discriminated against for filing a grievance.

II. Scope and Applicability

This policy shall apply to anyone holding a recognized faculty rank, regardless of tenure status or percent time of employment, who has a complaint regarding any action or inaction by an academic administrator that he/she believes is unfair or improperly reached. However, no complaint shall be reviewed under these faculty grievance procedures if:

A. The complaint pertains to a subject that is reviewable under or is specifically excluded from review by any other University System of Maryland or Institutional policy;

B. The complaint pertains to an official policy, regulation, or procedure of the University System of Maryland or the Institution; a decision or action by the Board of Regents, the Chancellor, or the President; or any matter the remedy for which would contravene or interfere with any such official policy, regulation, procedure, decision, or action;

C. The complaint pertains to broad areas of the fiscal management, staffing, or structure of the University System of Maryland or the Institution; or

D. The resolution of the complaint is not under the control of the Institution and/or the University System of Maryland.

III. Guidelines and Standards

A. Filing a Grievance

A written, signed grievance must be filed with the Chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee within sixty calendar days following the administrative action or inaction prompting the grievance, or within sixty calendar days after the faculty member first knew or should have known of such action or inaction. However, days falling between June 15 and August 15 of any year shall not be counted in determining the sixty day time period or any other time period contained in this policy. Grievances by more than one faculty member may be combined into a single grievance, if each faculty member signs the grievance and the material facts and issues are substantially the same.

B. The Faculty Grievance Committee

A Faculty Grievance Committee consisting of seven tenured faculty members shall be elected annually from the faculty at-large. The Committee shall elect a Chair from among the committee members. Any member of the committee shall be entitled to dismiss himself/herself if such member feels that he/she has a conflict of interest that would result in an inability to render an impartial decision in a particular case; or the committee, by majority vote, may determine that such a disqualifying conflict of interest exists and may dismiss any committee member. In the event of a tie vote, the Chair shall make such determination. The grievant may challenge any member of the Committee based on the member's alleged inability to render an impartial verdict and the Committee, by majority vote, may dismiss such member. A disqualified Committee member shall be replaced by a faculty member from the same school. The Committee shall elect a Secretary who shall be responsible for keeping a record of the grievance filed, notifying persons involved, retaining copies of all documents and evidence related to the grievance, and making arrangements for the Hearing to be tape recorded.

C. Informal Resolution

Once a grievance has been filed, any applicable time frames may be stayed by the Committee Chair at the request of the grievant to permit adequate time to address and resolve the grievance through informal discussions or mediation. The grievance will be considered resolved through informal resolution if all parties sign a confidential, written statement describing how the grievance has been resolved. The original of such statement shall be maintained in the Office of the Provost.

D. The Grievance Hearing

The Faculty Grievance Committee shall convene a Hearing at a time convenient to all parties within thirty days following receipt of the written grievance, and shall provide written notice of the date and time to all parties. Such hearing shall be open to the public unless one or both parties request it to be closed. No individual may be represented by an attorney before the Faculty Grievance Committee, unless that individual is facing criminal charges relating to the subject of the grievance. The grievant shall be responsible for demonstrating the merits of his/her grievance at the Hearing. He/she must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the action or inaction complained of occurred; that it adversely affects him/her; and that a remedy is reasonable and proper.

E. Conduct of the Hearing

Both the faculty member and the University administrator (or his/her designee) responsible for the action or inaction complained of shall have the opportunity to make opening and closing statements, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to present documentary evidence. Either party may request in writing in advance of the Hearing that the Chair contact witnesses and request their appearance at the Hearing. The Chair shall honor such request, unless he/she determines that it is unreasonable, or that the testimony sought would be irrelevant to the issues in the Hearing or unnecessarily redundant. Members of the Committee may question witnesses and call their own witnesses, as they deem necessary. The Chair shall be responsible for conducting the Hearing in an efficient and decorous manner, and shall, in consultation with other committee members as he/she deems necessary, rule on all procedural and substantive matters relating to the conduct of the Hearing. The formal rules of evidence-applicable to judicial proceedings shall not apply in the Hearing. The Committee may receive such evidence as a reasonable person would consider reliable in making important personal decisions, and the Chair shall make rulings on issues of relevance and admissibility. The Chair may set reasonable limits on the presentation of evidence and may exclude redundant or irrelevant evidence.

At any step of the grievance process, the Committee may request advice of legal counsel, through the President, on significant legal issues. A tape recording shall be made of the Hearing, and copies shall be made available to parties for cost, upon request. A record shall be kept of all proceedings and documents entered into evidence.

F. Deliberations, Findings and Recommendations

Only evidence officially received at the Hearing shall be considered by the Committee. The Committee shall conduct its deliberations privately, and shall not record such deliberations. The Chair shall prepare a written report of its findings, including the reasons for its findings, its recommendations, and any dissent. Each member of the Committee shall sign and date the report. The report shall be sent to the President and to all parties within ten days following the conclusion of the hearings.

G. Written Exceptions

Within five working days of receipt of the Committee's written findings and recommendations, the faculty member may file written exceptions to the Committee's report to the President based on only the following grounds: (1) The Committee's failure to follow the procedures specified herein in a manner that substantially prejudiced the grievant; (2) Bias on the part of one or more of the Committee members; (3) Inconsistent or overly severe penalties recommended by the Committee; or (4) Failure by the Committee to consider all the evidence.

H. President's Decision

Within ten days after receiving the Committee's report or the faculty member's written exceptions to that report, the President shall report, in writing, to all parties and the Chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee, his/her decision in the matter and what action, if any, will be taken. It is expected that the President will give great weight to the findings and recommendations of the Faculty Grievance Committee. However, if the recommendations of the Committee are not implemented, a written explanation of this decision shall be provided to all of the above parties.

The President's decision is final.

 

Effective Date:  07/16/1997