2019-2020 Core Faculty Handbook

Faculty Grievance Procedures

Revised by the Provost, August 28, 2017

Revised April, 2005

Approved by Board of Trustees, December 17, 1997

Approved by Academic Affairs Committee, November 5, 1997

Approved by Faculty Assembly, October 21, 1997

PURPOSE: The purpose of the University’s grievance policy is to ensure that each Unit Core Faculty member, who is full time or pro-rata contracted, has access to the same process for appealing administrative decisions within the University that do not fall under the purview of the CBA. This policy has five steps: 1) a process for an informal resolution within the faculty member's school; 2) the submission of a written grievance and an initial review by the Grievance Committee; 3) formal review, deliberations, and recommendations by the Grievance Committee; 4) the Provost's review; and 5) an appeal to the President.

In the event the President is the person against whom a grievance has been filed, the Committee's report shall be sent to the chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees for its review. The decision by the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees is final within Lesley University.

Since the primary goal of this policy is to resolve grievances within the University, neither the faculty member nor the person(s) whose decision(s) is being grieved may be represented or accompanied by an attorney at meetings in any stage of these proceedings. All matters related to a grievance are considered confidential.

DEFINITION OF A GRIEVANCE: A grievance is considered to exist if the faculty member believes that written policies, guidelines, or established practices of the University have been incorrectly or inconsistently interpreted or implemented by the person(s) holding supervisory authority. The grievance may not concern terms or conditions of employment because the grievance procedure under the CBA is the sole and exclusive procedure for resolution of grievances relating to any dispute concerning the interpretation, application, or claimed violation of a specific term or provision of the CBA. The University’s grievance policy is also not a vehicle for challenging or establishing University policy itself, as such a challenge should be brought through the governance system.

An action can be grieved no more than 2 years after the date of the action, unless the grievant can demonstrate extraordinary circumstances.

Allegations of discrimination and harassment are covered by the University’s Complaint Resolution Procedure.

Grievance Committee

The function of the Committee is to review information provided by the grievant, to gather additional information as necessary, and to arrive at a recommendation that is consistent with University policies. All Committee decisions will be made by majority vote.

The Grievance Committee is composed of elected faculty members from each of the Schools and at-large from the Faculty Assembly. At the beginning of each academic year the Schools and/or Faculty Assembly will elect members as needed. Within 30 days of the election the Committee must meet to elect the Chair of the Committee and to set the meeting dates for the academic year.

Faculty members from each of the schools will elect one faculty (1) representative to the Committee. The Faculty Assembly will elect at least one (1) and up to two (2) at-large members to insure an uneven number of voting members. The faculty are voting members who will serve three-year staggered terms. Eligibility to be elected to the Committee requires a minimum of 2 years of service as an on-campus core faculty member in order to have familiarity with University policies and procedures. An administrator will be invited by the Committee to serve as a non-voting ex-officio member. The role of the administrator on the Committee is to provide information to the Committee regarding relevant university policies, procedures and practices.

Grievance Procedures

An essential component of this Grievance Policy is adherence to the established time frames and all participants shall make every effort to meet them. There may be circumstances, however, when an extension for a reasonable period of time is warranted.

In the event that the grievant elects to pursue action against the University or any person holding supervisory authority relating to the subject matter of the grievance in some other forum (for example, in a court or an administrative agency) while a grievance is pending, the President may direct the Committee to discontinue further processing of the grievance.

If the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of the grievant and the person(s) being grieved at any time during this process, all actions of the Committee regarding the grievance will cease.

Step One:

Informal resolution between faculty member and person(s) holding supervisory authority at the School Level

It always is hoped that differences between a faculty member and the person(s) whose decisions are being grieved can be resolved informally. As a first step, therefore, a faculty member who disagrees with a decision by a person(s) holding supervisory authority shall request a meeting with this person in an attempt to resolve the matter before initiating the formal grievance procedure set forth in Step Two.

If the matter is not resolved through this first meeting, the faculty member shall request a second meeting with the person being grieved and that person’s supervisor. In the case where this latter person is not the Dean of the School nor the person whose decision is being grieved, the faculty member will also notify the Dean of the School, who may be asked by the faculty member to participate in the meeting in place of the second level supervisor. This second meeting ordinarily will be held within 15 working days of the first meeting. The faculty member has the option of asking another faculty member to be present at this meeting.

Step Two:

Submission of a Written Grievance and Initial Review by the Grievance Committee

The Written Grievance: After attempting to resolve the matter informally, a faculty member may submit a written grievance to the chair of the Grievance Committee via the Office of the Provost. The written grievance shall include a statement of the faculty member's efforts to resolve the matter through the informal steps outlined in this policy. In addition, the written grievance shall identify the written University policy, guidelines, or established practice at issue and state as succinctly as possible the basis for the grievant’s belief that it has been incorrectly or inconsistently interpreted or implemented. If the grievance involves an alleged failure to follow an established practice, the grievant shall provide evidence of the existence of the established practice and may not establish the existence of such a practice on the basis of an isolated case.

Within 10 working days of receipt of a written grievance that complies with the requirements set forth in the preceding paragraph, the Chair of the Grievance Committee shall provide notice with a copy of the grievance to the other members of the Grievance Committee and the person(s) being grieved and that person’s supervisor.

Initial Review of the Grievance by the Committee: Upon receipt of the grievance the Committee will determine if the written submission meets the definition of a grievance as set forth in this policy.

In making that determination, the Committee will consider whether the grievant has presented sufficient credible evidence to support a conclusion that the person(s) being grieved has incorrectly or inconsistently interpreted or implemented University policies or established practices. The Committee may request that the grievant supplement her or his written grievance by submitting further documentation or by appearing before the Committee.

The Committee will consider the nature of the policy or practice that is at issue. If the policy is written and specific in nature and the faculty member has presented information that suggests a deviation or misinterpretation of a policy, formal proceedings will usually be justified. If a faculty member contends that an unwritten practice has not been followed but does not offer any clear evidence of a consistently established practice and is instead simply disagreeing with a discretionary administrative judgment, the Committee shall decline to conduct further proceedings.

Within 20 working days following notification of the grievance to the person being grieved and that person’s supervisor, the Committee will determine whether or not further proceedings should be held. The Committee shall issue a written statement identifying which University policies/practices were reviewed and the findings of the Committee. If the Committee decides that the grievance is not worthy of further proceedings, the decision will be considered final. The faculty member may file a new grievance, however, if new data are available.

Step Three:

Formal Review, Deliberations, and Recommendations of the Grievance Committee: At this final step of the Committee's proceedings, members of the Committee will undertake a thorough review of the factual elements of the grievance and consider the interpretation or implementation of any University policies or established practices which may be applicable. Step Three of the proceedings will be completed within 20 working days following the determination required by Step Two, unless the Committee determines that additional time of up to 10 working days is needed.

If the Committee elects to conduct a hearing, both the grievant and the person(s) being grieved may provide information to the Committee that they believe to be pertinent. They may submit the names of individuals whom they want to have called as witnesses. The grievant and the person being grieved will be notified in advance by the Chair of the date, place, and time of any hearings. The chair will identify in the notification the witnesses who will be present at the hearing. The grievant and the person(s) being grieved will be invited by the chair to submit in writing, in advance, questions they want to have asked of the witnesses.

The committee will deliberate and make a recommendation based on all the information gathered and presented. A written report that sets forth its findings of facts and summarizes the Committee's proceedings will be mailed to the grievant and the person(s) being grieved. If the resolution is accepted by the grievant and the person(s) being grieved, then the decision will be considered final within Lesley University.

If either the grievant or the person(s) being grieved does not accept the findings and recommendations, the Chair of the Committee will present its recommendations and a report of the Committee's findings and proceedings to the Provost for review.

Step Four:

Review by the Provost: The Provost will review all documentation submitted to the Committee, the Committee's findings and its recommendations. The Provost may request further information from the Committee, the grievant, and the person(s) being grieved as is deemed necessary. The Provost may accept or reject the recommendations of the Committee. If the decision of the Provost is not to follow the Committee's recommendations, then the Provost shall state the reason(s) in writing, to the Committee, the grievant and the person(s) being grieved. The Provost's review will be completed within 20 working days.

If the grievant and the person(s) being grieved accept the Provost's decision, then it will be considered final within Lesley University.

Step Five:

Appeal to the President: If the faculty member or the person(s) being grieved does not accept the Provost's findings and recommendations, then they may appeal the decision(s) to the President within 15 working days following receipt of the Provost’s review. In making a decision regarding the appeal, the President, or the President's designee, will review all documentation submitted to the Committee, the Committee's findings and recommendations, and the Provost's decision.

The President will present her or his written decision to the faculty member, the person(s) being grieved, the Provost and the chairperson of the Faculty Grievance Committee within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal.

Unless the grievance is filed against the President, the decision of the President is final within Lesley University. If the grievance is filed against the President, then the following review process shall apply.

Grievances filed against the President: The Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustee will review all documentation submitted to the Grievance Committee including the Grievance Committee's findings and recommendations, copies of which will have been given to the Provost and President.

The Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees will present its written decision to the faculty member, the person(s) being grieved, the Provost, the President and the chairperson of the Faculty Grievance Committee following its review.

The decision of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees is final within Lesley University.

Confidentiality of Proceedings

Minutes of all meetings, in summary form, will be kept at the Office of the Provost and will be available to the grievant and person(s) being grieved solely for the purpose of preparing subsequent presentations to the Committee. The Chair of the Committee will either prepare the summary of the minutes or delegate the preparation to another Committee member. All meetings and summary minutes are confidential and may not be disclosed.