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UMB FACULTY GRIEVANCE POLICY AND PROCEDURE
Faculty | Approved October 9, 2015
Passed by the UMB Faculty Senate on June 18, 2003 and approved by the President of UMB on July 23, 2003; Amended effective October 9, 2012 [nondiscrimination definition, per USM VI 1.05]; Amended effective October 1, 2015 [discrimination grievances subject to campus procedures ].
In working together to fulfill the Mission of the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), legitimate problems, differences of opinion, complaints, or grievances might arise in the relationship between UMB and its faculty. Many such complaints are resolved informally through discussions or formally through policies governing specific matters, such as the UMB or University System of Maryland (USM) policies on appointment, rank, and tenure. On occasion, however, complaints will arise that cannot be resolved under existing policies and procedures.
This Faculty Grievance Policy ("Policy") is intended to satisfy the Board of Regents Policy II-4.00 - "Policy on Faculty Grievances", which requires all USM institutions to have a formal faculty grievance policy culminating in decision on grievances by the President.
This Policy is intended to assist the President in deciding grievances after a timely, consistent, collegial and simple process.
Persons Covered By This Policy
This Policy applies to grievances asserted by faculty holding paid faculty appointments at UMB, including all ranks of tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty, and non-tenure-track faculty. This Policy does not apply to grievances asserted by faculty appointed as academic administrators.
Matters Constituting a Grievance Under This Policy
A faculty grievance normally involves action by one or more academic administrators of UMB, acting in their administrative role, which a faculty member believes has violated his or her rights. Faculty members may file a grievance petition under this policy for any action or inaction by an academic administrator that they believe is unfair, or improperly reached. Grievance issues include, but are not limited to, academic freedom, University salary, academic assignments, space allocations, and the nature and conditions of a faculty member's academic work. Complaints alleging discrimination contrary to the UMB Notice of Non-Discrimination are subject to UMB policy and procedures which specifically apply to allegations of discrimination.
Matters relating to faculty practice plans, and matters that are insufficiently related to the concerns of the academic community, will not be addressed under this Policy.
Grievances are not the appropriate means to seek changes in UMB and USM policies. Thus, in accordance with USM Policy II-4.00, no grievance shall be reviewed under this Policy if:
The grievance complaint pertains to a subject reviewable under, or specifically excluded from review by, any other System or UMB policy. For this purpose, "institutional policy" includes any policy of a UMB School which has been adopted with approval of its faculty body.
The grievance pertains to an official policy, regulation, or procedure of the USM or UMB; 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.
The grievance pertains to broad areas of fiscal management, staffing or structure of USM, UMB or one or more of its Schools or units, or any other institution of USM.
The resolution of the grievance is not under the control of UMB and/or USM.
Days: Calendar days excluding Saturday, Sunday, and days UMB observes as holidays.
Dean: Dean of the Grievant's School. If the Grievant is a joint appointee, then Dean refers to the Dean of the School in which the Grievant has a primary appointment, or the School in which the grievance occurred.
Grievant: The faculty member initiating a grievance.
Improperly Reached: The decision was reached without the consultations required by department or school regulations prior to the making of such decisions or without approval of higher-level administrators where such approval is required.
President: UMB President.
Respondent: The administrator responsible for the action or inaction addressed in the complaint. When a grievance involves a decision made by a group of persons, the Respondent shall be the person that has the authority to make the decision about which the Grievant is petitioning under this Policy.
School: The UMB School in which the Grievant has a faculty appointment, or, in the case of a faculty with joint appointments, the School under which the grievance occurred.
School Grievance Process: A School-specific faculty grievance process developed through the shared governance mechanism in that School.
Unfair: An action or inaction that is arbitrary, capricious, vindictive, lacking in justifiable cause or basis in official policy, unjustifiable with respect to treatment accorded to equals, or extreme in relation to what would be a reasonable and available alternative course of action.
Vice President: UMB Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Procedure for Handling Grievance
The Three-Stage Process
The attempt to resolve a grievance should normally be a three-stage process:
Informal Process - The Grievant shall promptly attempt to resolve the matter informally with the official having immediate authority over the matter.
School Process - The School grievance policy, developed in accordance with USM shared governance principles, must be invoked if the informal process fails to resolve the matter.
Senate Process - If no resolution is reached through the informal and formal School mechanisms, the faculty member may file a grievance to be reviewed under this Policy.
Presentation of Grievance Petition
A grievance petition under this Policy must be filed within 30 days after exhaustion of the informal and/or school-specific stages.
The grievance petition should follow a prescribed form:
- The petition shall be submitted in writing and must be delivered in person, by certified mail or other method providing a written receipt of delivery, to the Vice President or designee.
- The petition shall contain at a minimum a concise statement of the action or inaction giving rise to the grievance, including the time-frame of the action or inaction and the name of the responsible Respondent.
- The petition shall specify the adverse effect that the action or inaction has had or may have on the Grievant, and the remedy sought. Requested remedies must be limited to those that UMB has the authority to provide.
- The petition should indicate earlier efforts made to resolve the matter (informal and School processes) and the results.
- The petition should be filed with copies of available evidence or documentation necessary to establish the merits of the Grievant's argument in support of the grievance.
- If the Grievant wants the petition to be handled under the confidential review process, the petition should state this request.
- The petition must be signed and dated by the Grievant.
If the Grievant has requested that the petition be handled under the confidential review process, the Vice President will investigate the petition and make a recommendation to the President. The Grievant may choose this path for any reason such as cases in which the grievance involves the disclosure of confidential, sensitive or personal information that the Grievant would not want divulged in a hearing process. The Vice President's written recommendation to the President will be made within 30 days of receiving the petition. The decision of the President will be final.
Procedure for Other Grievances: Case Committee
In all other cases, the Vice President will forward the grievance petition to the President of the Faculty Senate, or designee, who will proceed in accordance with this Section E.4 of this Policy.
The President of the Faculty Senate or designee, in consultation with the Vice President and University Counsel will determine if the petition falls within the purview of this Policy. If the matter does not fall within this Policy, the Vice President will return the petition to the Grievant within 10 days of receipt with the reason for the return stated in writing.
For grievance petitions that are referred to the President of the Faculty Senate or designee by the Vice President, the following procedures apply:
a. Case Committee - The President of the Faculty Senate, or designee, within 10 days of receipt of the grievance petition, shall establish a Case Committee, name one of the members as its Chair, and notify the Grievant, Respondent, and Vice President of the Committee members. The Case Committee will be made up of five faculty members, three of whom will be current members of the Faculty Senate. At least one member of the Case Committee will have a faculty appointment at the same School as the Grievant. At least one member of the Case Committee will be of the same tenure status and rank as the Grievant. Any UMB faculty member, irrespective of tenure status, rank, or School affiliation, may be considered for appointment to a Case Committee. Decisions of the Case Committee shall be made based on majority vote.
b. The Grievant has the right to an impartial investigation and evaluation of his or her grievance by the Case Committee. Potential Case Committee members are expected to request to be excused if they have a family relationship or conflicting personal or professional ties to the Grievant or the Respondent. Prior to the beginning of an investigation, the Grievant or Respondent may request the removal of any Committee member(s) who either party feels would be unable to evaluate the case impartially. When a Case Committee member recuses himself or herself, or is removed for any reason, the President of the Faculty Senate, or designee, shall appoint a replacement.
c. At any time, the Case Committee may determine the petition relates to a matter which does not constitute a grievance within the scope of this Policy or to a complaint which is insufficiently related to the concerns of the academic community. In such cases, the Committee will dismiss the petition. The decision of the Case Committee to dismiss a grievance petition will be sent in writing to the Grievant, the Respondent, the President of the Senate or designee, and the Vice President. The decision to dismiss a grievance petition by the Case Committee is final and not subject to appeal.
d. Within 7 days of its appointment, the Case Committee shall notify the Respondent. The notice will identify the Grievant and include a copy of the written grievance petition, and any supporting materials provided by the Grievant. The Committee will solicit a written response from the Respondent. The Respondent will have 20 days to respond in writing. A Respondent shall be asked to provide documentary evidence in support of the Respondent's position if the Respondent wishes to counter any of the written information or documents received from the Grievant.
e. Within 10 days of receipt of the Respondent's response, or expiration of the response period, the Case Committee will determine whether to dismiss the grievance, handle it according to the streamlined process, or proceed with a hearing.
f. If the Case Committee determines a grievance qualifies for an expedited review, it may review the grievance and the response of the Respondent and recommend a resolution. If a resolution satisfactory to the parties is reached, the Case Committee will write a concise summary of the resolution and issue copies to the Grievant, the Respondent, the President of the Faculty Senate, and the Vice President, and the matter will be considered concluded.
g. If a resolution acceptable to the parties and the Committee is not reached by this streamlined approach, the Committee will within 10 days arrange for a hearing of the petition. Both the Grievant and the Respondent will be required to submit the names of any witnesses at least 10 days prior to the hearings.
Hearings Before the Case Committee
The purpose of the hearing is for the Case Committee to determine, to the best of its ability, the facts in the case and to decide whether, in the Case Committee's judgment, any violation of USM, campus, or school policies has occurred. In reaching its decision, the Case Committee may interview the Grievant and Respondent, witnesses, appropriate administrative officials, and others having, or believed to have, knowledge of the matter. The Case Committee may not compel any individual to appear or to otherwise respond; however, if the Grievant fails to appear or respond, the Committee may consider the petition abandoned. A written response may be requested in place of, or in addition to, a personal appearance at the hearing. The Case Committee will review relevant documents submitted by the Grievant, Respondent, and witnesses.
A hearing shall be closed unless both the Grievant and the Respondent request that the hearing be open. Throughout the grievance process, efforts shall be made to maintain the confidentiality of the parties to the hearing if the hearing is closed. All relevant documents, including the combined list of the names of potential witnesses, shall be made available to the Grievant and Respondent at least 10 days before the hearing. Information of a confidential nature shall be made available only to persons involved in the grievance process, and only to the extent necessary to properly consider the grievance.
Peer or legal counsel may not appear or directly participate in, or address, the hearing. Formal rules of evidence and judicial procedure shall not apply to the hearing. The Chair of the Case Committee will establish the agenda for presentation of evidence and witnesses. The Chair of the Case Committee shall make rulings on all questions concerning the course of the proceedings and the presentation of evidence and may order the proceedings in such manner as he or she deems appropriate. The Chair may set time limits for presentation of evidence and testimony and may exclude redundant or irrelevant evidence and testimony. A hearing may be adjourned and reconvened at the discretion of the Chair.
Members of the Case Committee may question the Grievant, Respondent, and their witnesses. The Committee may call witnesses as it deems necessary.
Both parties have the right to call witnesses. It is the responsibility of the party requesting a witness to contact any prospective witness and request the witness's appearance at the hearing. The Case Committee and UMB cannot compel a witness to appear at the hearings.
Hearing proceedings, except for private deliberations of the Case Committee, will be audio-recorded. Accidental loss of all or part of the tape record shall not invalidate the findings of the Case Committee. Copies of tape recordings and documentary evidence will be made available upon request to the Grievant and Respondent following conclusion of the Hearing, subject to limitations on further dissemination if necessary to protect confidential information.
The Case Committee will make a finding as to whether or not the grievance has merit. The finding will be based on a preponderance of the evidence presented and considered at the hearing. The Case Committee will write a concise report summarizing the facts, the Committee's finding and its recommendation. If the Committee concludes that a grievance has merit and that a remedy should be given, the Committee will recommend an appropriate remedy.
The Case Committee's report shall be made within 10 days after the closing of the hearing. The report shall be submitted concurrently to the Vice President or designee and the President of the Faculty Senate or designee. The Vice President shall forward the report to the President, adding any recommendation the Vice President wishes to make, and send copies of the report to the Grievant and the Respondent. The Vice President will forward the report to the President within 10 days of receiving the report.
Actions of the University President
After receiving a report and recommendation, the President will attempt to respond within 30 days. The President's response will be in writing and will be delivered to the Grievant with copies to the Vice President, the President of the Faculty Senate, and the Respondent. The President of the Faculty Senate, or designee, will inform the Case Committee of the President's decision. It is expected that the President will give great weight to the recommendation of the Case Committee in a matter which was the subject of a hearing. However, the President is not bound to accept the recommendation of the Case Committee. The decision of the President shall be final.
If the President does not accept the Case Committee's report, the President will state in writing what part of the finding and recommendation is not accepted, and the reason for the President's action.
The Grievance File
The Vice President or the Case Committee, whichever is deciding a grievance, shall establish a grievance file for any grievance evaluated under this Policy. Any Case Committee files and minutes of Case Committee meetings, prepared by its Chair, will be a part of the grievance file of the Case Committee. The documentary evidence presented by the Grievant and Respondent and the audiotape record of any hearing also will be part of a grievance file. The grievance file is confidential. A grievance file shall be maintained by the Office of the Vice President for a period of at least five years from the date a complaint is filed. Case Committee records shall be stored in the grievance file.
Deadlines specified in this Policy should be followed if practical. For good cause shown, deadlines may be extended by the Vice President, the President of the Faculty Senate or designee, or the President.
The Grievant shall be responsible for all costs incurred by the Grievant in connection with the Grievant's preparation, presentation, investigation, hearing, appeal, and resolution of a grievance under this Policy. The Grievant may be required to pay the reasonable cost of reproduction of hearing audiotapes.
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