UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Faculty and Staff Handbook

24th Edition, 2015 Version


Chapter VI:  Academic Staff Personnel Policies and Procedures

6.12 Grievances: UWRF 12 (UWS 13.02)

6.12.1 General

This procedure is set up to deal with academic staff grievances not specifically provided for in UWS 10, 11, 12, and 13.02.

6.12.2 Council

In the following, the term "Council" refers to the Academic Staff Council.

6.12.3 Definition of a Grievance

A grievance is a written statement filed by an academic staff employee which alleges negative or unfair treatment or dissatisfaction by the employee in regard to his or her working conditions or employment at the University. A grievance must directly relate to the employee's working terms or conditions and not on behalf of any employee or group of employees. The grievance process shall not apply to committee or administrative decisions that involve the employee's performance evaluation or review, retention, renewal, promotion, salary adjustment, disciplinary matter or other such personnel decision that is completed through other applicable policies and procedures. The grievance process shall only apply to current employees, not former employees or those with emeritus status. 

A grievance differs from a complaint in that it focuses upon the effects experienced by the grievant rather than upon the alleged misconduct of another. A grievance seeks relief for the grievant rather than punishment of another individual.

The University reserves the right not to proceed with a grievance under this policy if the grievant has sought resolution for the same or similar issue in another internal proceeding, forum or setting.  Also, the University reserves the right not to proceed if there is another policy or procedure that directly addresses the issue at hand (e.g. sexual harassment or discrimination)  

6.12.4 Advice and Information

An academic staff member is encouraged to seek advice and information from the following University offices if he/she believes he/she is being treated unfairly, but is reluctant to pursue the matter within the employment unit or needs information about the process to resolve work issues. The academic staff member may seek advice without initiating informal or formal action. 

A.The academic staff member's Human Resources representative can provide information and advice on employment rights and responsibilities and appropriate procedures for resolving an issue, either informally or formally through the grievance procedure.

B.The University's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion representative can provide information regarding discrimination or disability issues.

6.12.5 Timeframe and Time Limits Guidelines

All timeframes and time limits specified below are excluding breaks in the university calendar and maybe modified by mutual consent or due to extenuating circumstances, except those identified in 6.12.7.A below.

6.12.6 Informal Resolution

An academic staff member who has a work issue that may lead to the grievance procedure is encouraged to attempt to resolve the matter informally. Establishing open lines of communication between the parties in a non-intimidating manner may be sufficient to resolve the issue.

A.The Informal Resolution process must be initiated within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of the alleged action, condition or decision that is the subject of the grievance.

B.Informal resolution of an issue may be pursued through any or all of the following:
       1.    Discussion with the immediate supervisor, department chair or unit head
       2.    Discussion with the dean, director or designee if 6.12.6.B.1 is a person involved
       3.    If agreed upon, a third party participant may be present during discussions

C.    The highest level of review for an informal resolution is the Dean / Director

D.    If the informal discussion concludes with an agreed upon resolution, the following applies to that agreement:
       1.    Any agreed upon resolution should be provided in writing by the supervisor/Dean /Director to the grievant within two business days of the agreement
       2.    The agreement must be signed by both the supervisor and grievant
       3.    Both parties will retain a copy of the agreement
       4.    The supervisor has thirty calendar days to enact the agreement

E.    If no resolution can be agreed upon, the academic staff member has ten (10) calendar days to:
       1.    Request in writing to have an informal discussion with Dean / Director; and/or
       2.    Submit a written statement of the alleged grievance at stated in Sec. 6.12.7 below.

6.12.7 Formal Grievance Procedure

If an informal resolution cannot be reached, the aggrieved academic staff member may proceed with the formal procedure. The grievance procedure is described below. The grievant and the administration may be accompanied by an advocate or representative of their choice for purposes of support, advice or counsel during the process.  However, the parties shall be required to speak on their own behalf at all stages of the process. All time limits specified, except those identified in 6.12.7.A below, may be modified by mutual consent or due to extenuating circumstances.

A. A formal written grievance must be filed within ten (10) calendar days after the informal process yielded no agreeable resolution.  If an informal process is not pursued, the formal written grievance must be filed within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of the alleged action, condition or decision that is the subject of the grievance.  The statement must include the following:
       1.    Detailed explanation of the action, condition or decision that has led to the filing of the grievance;
       2.    Specific manner in which such action, condition or decision caused the negative or unfair treatment toward or dissatisfaction by the employee in regard to his or her workingconditions or employment;
       3.    Resolution, if any, the employee seeks to provide relief from the grievance;
       4.    Summary of any steps taken by the employee or administration to address the issue, if an informal resolution was pursued and any proposed remedies;
       5.    Copy of any relevant or material record or documentation;
       6.    Grievant shall state in writing whether he/she seeks a hearing before the PAC panel or whether he/she would prefer that the PAC panel consider the issue on the written record only, if possible.  If neither option is stated, the PAC will proceed with the hearing option.

B. The written grievance shall be submitted to the chairperson of the Positive Action Committee (PAC), which serves as the subcommittee for the Academic Staff Council. The chairperson of the PAC will deliver a copy of the grievance to the appropriate Dean/Director or administrator with knowledge of the issue. The Positive Action Committee (PAC), subcommittee of the Academic Staff Council, shall be comprised of the following members:
       1.    Chaired by Council Vice-Chair
       2.    Two other Council members (appointed by the Council Chair as needed)
       3.    HR Unclassified representative (appointed as needed)(non-voting)
       4.    Two Academic Staff at large (selected from a pre-arranged group of academic staff members)

C. Within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the formal grievance, the PAC chairperson will call a meeting of the PAC to consider whether the issues raised in the grievance are appropriate for this process and whether it has been timely filed.  Each meeting of the PAC must have a quorum of voting members present. No later than ten (10) calendar days after the meeting, the PAC will determine what action should be taken, which will include one of the following:
       1.    The grievance process is not the appropriate venue for the issue(s) raised in the written statement and no further action should be taken;
       2.    The alleged dispute or disagreement between the grievance and the administration has been resolved or there is no applicable remedy to be granted and therefore, the issue is moot;
       3.    The grievant failed to properly file the grievance in accordance with this policy, and upon reasonable notification, has failed or refused to correct the errors contained in said grievance, thereby requiring no further action on the part of the PAC.
       4.    The grievant and the administration have mutually agreed to stay the grievance process in an attempt to mediate the issues raised in the grievance.
       5.    The grievance is appropriately and timely filed in accordance with this policy and a formal hearing should occur (unless waived by the grievant).

D. If the PAC determines that a  formal hearing should occur (and it has not been waive by the grievant), the following steps and timeframes shall apply:
       1.    The PAC shall set a date for the formal hearing within fourteen (14) calendar days of the decision to hold such a hearing.
       2.    The  hearing shall comply with the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law.
       3.    All parties will be notified at least five (5) calendar days in advance of the scheduled hearing. No less than three (3) calendar days prior to the hearing, the parties shall provide a list of the names, titles and purpose of any additional individuals that will be present at the hearing on the partys’ behalf.
       4.    During the hearing, the PAC may determine the appropriate process to follow in order to assure that the grievant has the opportunity to be heard and the administration has an opportunity to respond to the allegations. At minimum, the following procedures will be followed:
              a.   Each party shall be given an opportunity to issue a verbal or written summation of their case.
              b.   Either party may provide written or verbal statements from individuals who have relevant and material information in regard to the issue at hand.
              c.   The PAC may ask questions of either party and the individuals in order to clarify information and/or address questions.
              d.   Neither party shall be allowed to cross examine the other party or their supporting witnesses.
              e.   The parties shall be expected to speak on their own behalf.
              f.    The burden of proof shall be on the grievant to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged action, condition or decision occurred.
              g.   A verbatim audio recording of the hearing shall be created and maintained by the chairperson of the PAC, or his or her designee. A copy may be provided to either party, upon request.
        5.    Only one hearing may be requested on a single grievance.

E. Within ten (10) calendar days after the hearing has been concluded, the PAC shall prepare a written report of its conclusions and recommendations which shall be submitted to the academic staff member and the Chancellor. The report shall contain recommendations for either:
        1.    dismissal of the grievance, or
        2.    proposed resolutions to the grievance.

F. Upon receipt of the PAC’s recommendation, the Chancellor shall review the relevant documents and materials.  During this process, the Chancellor may discuss the grievance with the chairperson of the PAC and/or the full committee, at his or her discretion, to seek clarification in regard to the written record. Within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the PAC recommendation, the Chancellor shall issue a written decision in which the Chancellor may affirm in full, in part or deny the PAC’s recommendation and impose any resolution that the Chancellor deems appropriate and within his or her authority. A copy of the written decision shall be provided to the grievant, the chairperson of the PAC, and the Chair of the Academic Staff Council. The decision of the Chancellor is final.

6.12.8 No Retaliation

No employee shall be retaliated against in response to utilizing the grievance process or participating in this process.  If an employee reasonably believes that retaliation has occurred, he/she should refer to the UWRF EEO/AA Policy and Statement found at:  http://www.uwrf.edu/EquityDiversityInclusion/EEOAAOfficer.cfm.