Grievances and Appeals of University Employment Actions
It is the policy of the University to work with employees in dealing fairly with all personnel problems, including employee grievances, questions or misunderstandings. The University has developed a Grievance and Appeals Procedure which is designed to:
- Enhance and maintain good employee-management relations;
- Efficiently handle grievances at the supervisory level closest to the problem; and
- Maximize employee participation in problem resolution.
Grievance and Appeal Process
The first level of review is the immediate supervisor, and the final level is the President of the University or his/her designee.
If an employee is considering filing a grievance, the first act should be to contact the Department of Human Resources so the procedure can be explained in detail. If an employee with a grievance or complaint first approaches supervisors or managers, they should contact the Department of Human Resources to be advised about the appropriate process that should be followed. The role of the Department of Human Resources is to facilitate the various steps in the Grievance Procedure by bringing together the employee and the supervisor.
The Grievant may undertake a complaint or grievance without fear of interference, retaliation or harassment from supervisors. The following four-step procedure will be used sequentially by most employees who initiate appeal of a University employment action. However, in some cases, depending on the level of the position occupied by the Grievant, or the severity of the alleged event, this process may begin at Steps 2, 3, or 4.
STEP 1 - Work Area Level
An employee should talk with his/her immediate supervisor as soon as possible. If problems are not resolved by the immediate supervisor or if the Grievant is unable to approach his/her Supervisor, the Grievant should contact the Department of Human Resources Representative to determine the next appropriate action to take.
STEP 2 - Departmental/Division Area Level
Should problems fail to be addressed within a reasonable length of time by using Step 1, the Grievant should speak with the next level of management. Before initiating this Step, the Grievant must contact the Department of Human Resources Representative, who will determine the appropriate Department/Division or Area Supervisor. The Department of Human Resources Representative will bring the Grievant and appropriate supervisor together and will attempt resolution of the problem.
STEP 3 - Vice Presidential Area
Should an employee's grievance fail to be resolved at Step 2, the Grievant must contact the Human Resources Representative. The Representative will refer the Grievant to the Vice President in whose area the problem has arisen. The Vice President will review the facts of the case and will make a determination.
STEP 4 - Appeal Level
Should an employee's grievance fail to be resolved at Step 3, the Grievant may submit the grievance for consideration of appeal.
- After receipt of the Vice President’s decision, the employee must send a written request to the Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer within ten (10) working days to request an appeal. In consultation with appropriate University personnel, the Executive Director of Human Resources or his/her designee will review the request for appeal and make a determination whether it is appropriate for a university panel to be convened.
- The President will maintain a standing committee of 12 members to hear grievances and appeals. The committee members shall be University personnel, broadly representative and diverse in terms of sex, age, race, and length of service and job family including, but not limited to, faculty and administration, clerical and office, service workers and skilled trades. The committee will be formed by solicitation of volunteers and nominees from the campus at large. The President will appoint four members to three-year terms; four members to two-year terms; four members to one-year terms; and will appoint replacement members as needed.
- The Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer or his/her designee will choose three of the 12 committee members to participate in each grievance and appeals case. The three persons chosen to hear a specific case will be designated as "The Grievance and Appeals Panel." At least one of the three panel members selected must be from a peer or related employee group of the Grievant.
- The Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer or his/her designee will serve as the non-voting chairperson of the Grievances and Appeals Panel. He or she will direct the hearing, develop facts, and summarize the findings and recommendations of the Panel. The Executive Director of Human Resources or his/her designee will present the Panel's findings and recommendations to the President.
- Panel members will determine by majority vote the recommendation to be presented to the President or his/her designee. The President or his/her designee will review the Panel's findings and recommendations, and will accept or reject same in part or in full. The President or his/her designee’s decision is final.
- Counsel or a representative may advise either party, but shall not be permitted to attend, participate directly in the proceedings, testify, or question witnesses. Southern Methodist University shall not be responsible for expenses associated with the hearing, including attorney’s fees, which are incurred by the employee or the respondent involved in the grievance.