Guidelines/Procedures


Subject:   Resolution of an Employee Complaint or Grievance
Guideline/Procedure for AR#:

6.08.005

Date Effective:   04/30/2009

I.  General Provisions for the Complaint and Grievance Processes

    A.    Representation

1.  Employees may represent themselves or be represented by another person of their choice (except a College supervisor or administrator) at any stage of the complaint or grievance process.

2.  The employee is responsible for notifying the Vice President of Human Resources, in writing, of any representative.  The employee is responsible for notifying the representative of any scheduled meetings and for providing the representative with all relevant materials and information.

3.  If the representative is a College employee, that employee will be granted administrative leave to attend scheduled meetings.  Administrative leave does not include preparation time.  If necessary, the Vice President of Human Resources will coordinate the representative’s need for administrative leave with the appropriate supervisor.

4.  If a supervisor or manager needs to have representation in a meeting, the supervisor may utilize another supervisor or the college’s legal counsel, if approved by the Vice President of Human Resources. 

    B.    Time Limits and Deadlines

1.   With respect to all work related-concerns other than termination, an employee must file a complaint or grievance within twenty (20) working days from the date of the situation that created the concern; or, if the employee, without negligence, was unaware of the situation at the time that it occurred, the employee has twenty (20) working days from the date of awareness to file a complaint or grievance.

2.  "Working days” refers only to those days Monday through Friday during which the College is in operation, even though the College conducts business at many locations on weekends.

3.  Time Limits expire at 5:00 p.m. on the working day.

4.  Prior to the expiration of a time limit, any party to a complaint or grievance may request an extension of that limit from the Vice President of Human Resources.  Extensions will be granted only when justified, will be for the shortest duration compatible with the justification, and will be communicated in writing to all parties by the Vice President of Human Resources.

5.   If an employee fails to meet a deadline, the complaint or grievance will be considered resolved on the basis of the last College response.

6.  If any other party to a complaint or grievance fails to meet a deadline, the employee may take the complaint or grievance to the next step in the process.

7.  An employee has ten (10) working days after termination to file a grievance related to the termination decision.

    C.    Process

             1.  The filing of a complaint or grievance does not stop or delay any decision or action of the College or of any of its employees.

2.  All documents related to a complaint or grievance shall be forwarded to the Vice President of Human Resources in addition to any other employee specified in the procedures below.  Those documents shall be retained at least until the complaint or grievance is resolved, and then in accordance with the College’s records-keeping policies.  Such documents include all requests, notifications, and responses that are referred to as “written” within these Guidelines/Procedures or the related Administrative Rule.

II.  Complaint Procedure

A complaint is a written request for the resolution of an issue that relates to an employee’s work conditions or relationships, including, but not limited to, relationships with colleagues and/or supervisors, communication, and interpretations of Administrative Rules and policies; job duties, responsibilities, assignments, performance, evaluation, and compensation; and work conditions, safety, and environmental concerns.  It is expected that, prior to filing a complaint, an employee will have attempted to resolve the issue informally with the appropriate supervisor.  If an employee chooses to file a complaint, it shall be resolved in accordance with the following steps: 

Step 1.  An employee who wishes to formally request the resolution of an issue related to work conditions or relationships shall submit a written complaint to his or her immediate supervisor.  If that supervisor is the source of the concern, the employee shall submit the complaint to the appropriate second-level supervisor.  This initial complaint must be submitted within twenty (20) working days of the situation that gives rise to the complaint.

Step 2.  The supervisor has ten (10) working days to meet with the employee to discuss the complaint.  After the meeting, the supervisor has ten (10) working days to respond, in writing, to the employee. 

Step 3.  Within ten (10) working days of receiving the supervisor’s response, the employee shall notify the supervisor, in writing, as to whether the issue is now resolved.  If the issue is resolved, no further action is needed.

Step 4.  If the issue is not resolved, the employee has an additional five (5) working days to submit the written complaint, along with any previously received supervisor responses, to the next-level supervisor (and to deliver a copy to any lower-level supervisor to whom the complaint was previously submitted).

Step 5.  Upon receipt of the complaint, the next-level supervisor has ten (10) working days to meet with the employee to discuss the complaint.  After the meeting, the next-level supervisor has ten (10) working days to respond to the employee in writing (and to deliver a copy to any lower-level supervisor to whom the complaint was previously submitted)

Step 6.  This process, as described in steps 3-5, can be repeated for each available higher level of supervisor up to the level of supervisor who reports directly to the President/CEO, which shall be the final level of review.  The President/CEO shall provide the final review only for complaints by employees who report directly to the President/CEO.  At the final level of review, the reviewer has ten (10) working days to interview the complainant, conduct an investigation review, determine the facts, render a final decision, and communicate that decision in writing to all parties and the Vice President of Human Resources.

        Step 7.  The Vice President of Human Resources shall ensure that the final decision is implemented and documented in the employee’s master personnel file.

III. Grievance Procedure 

A grievance is a written request for the resolution of an issue related to one’s employment status within the College (such as, probation, suspension, and termination), academic freedom, or an alleged violation of state or federal law.  It is expected that, prior to filing a grievance, an employee will have attempted to resolve the issue informally with the appropriate supervisor.  If an employee chooses to file a grievance, it shall be resolved in accordance with the following steps:

Step 1.  An employee who wishes to formally request the resolution of an issue related to his or her employment status or to other issues as defined in the Administrative Rule, shall submit a written Statement of Grievance form to the Vice President of Human Resources.  This Statement of Grievance form must be submitted in accordance with the Time Limits and Deadlines.  The Vice President of Human Resources shall immediately notify the employee upon receipt of the Statement of Grievance. 

Step 2.  The Vice President of Human Resources shall, within five (5) working days of receipt of a Statement of Grievance form, forward it to the Vice President or Associate Vice President who has supervisory responsibility for the grievant, or, if none exists, to the appropriate Executive Vice President or other supervisor who reports directly to the President/CEO, or, if the grievant reports directly to the President/CEO, to the President/CEO (and forward a copy to all supervisors of the employee).  Upon receipt of the Statement of Grievance, the administrator addressing the grievance has ten (10) working days to meet with the employee to discuss the grievance.  

Step 3.  After meeting with the employee, the administrator addressing the grievance has ten (10) working days to gather data, conduct an investigation, determine the facts, consult with the Office of Human Resources (if necessary), render a decision, and submit that decision, in writing, to the Vice President of Human Resources.   

Step 4.  The Vice President of Human Resources shall notify the employee, in writing, of the decision within five (5) working days from the day the decision is received in Human Resources.  

Step 5.  The employee shall notify the Vice President of Human Resources, in writing, as to whether the decision is accepted or rejected, within ten (10) working days of receipt of the decision.  If the decision is accepted by the employee, the Vice President of Human Resources shall notify, in writing, all relevant parties of the decision within five (5) working days.  A copy of this final decision will be placed in the employee’s master personnel file. 

Step 6.  If the employee does not accept the decision, and the administrator who addressed the grievance reports to an Executive Vice President, then steps 2-5 above are repeated with the appropriate Executive Vice President.  Within ten (10) working days of receipt of the decision, the Vice President of Human Resources shall notify, in writing, all relevant parties that the employee did not accept the initial decision.  

Step 7.  If the above steps do not yield a decision accepted by the employee, the employee may request that a Grievance Review Committee be established (see below), by submitting a Request for Grievance Review Committee to the Vice President of Human Resources within ten (10) working days of receipt of the decision.  If an employee who has not accepted such a decision does not request a Grievance Review Committee, the decision shall be treated as final, distributed to all parties to the grievance, and placed in the employee’s master personnel file. 

Step 8.  The Vice President of Human Resources will deliver the Request for Grievance Review Committee and all related documentation to the elected Grievance Review Committee Chair.  The Grievance Review Committee shall meet with the employee within ten (10) working days from receipt of the materials.  The Grievance Review Committee shall review the materials, conduct an investigation, determine the facts, and submit a written recommendation to the President/CEO within twenty (20) working days of meeting with the employee.  If a Grievance Review Committee cannot develop a recommendation supported by a majority of its members, it shall provide a written report to the President/CEO explaining the views held within the committee and their purported justification. 

Step 9.  The President/CEO shall review the recommendation or report of the Grievance Review Committee and render a final decision within ten (10) working days. 

Step 10.  The final decision of the President/CEO shall be sent to the Vice President of Human Resources for distribution to the employee and the employee’s supervisors at each level.  

Step 11.  The Office of Human Resources will ensure that the final decision of the President/CEO is implemented and that documents related to the grievance are recorded appropriately, including preserving a record of the final disposition of the matter in the employee’s master personnel file.

Establishment of a Grievance Review Committee 

Upon receipt of a Request for a Grievance Review Committee, the Vice President of Human Resources shall, within ten (10) working days, coordinate the selection of the Grievance Review Committee with the grievant and that (high level) supervisor of the grievant who reports directly to the President/CEO (or, if the grievant reports directly to the President/CEO, with the President/CEO).  The Grievance Review Committee shall consist of four college employees selected as follows:   

1.       The grievant shall submit to the Vice President of Human Resources the names of five (5) employees.  The relevant administrator shall select two (2) employees from this list to serve on the committee.

2.       The relevant supervisor shall submit to the Vice President of Human Resources the names of five (5) administrative employees.  The grievant shall select two (2) administrative employees from this list to serve on the committee.

3.       The Grievance Review Committee shall elect a chair to preside over the meetings. The chair shall serve as a voting member of the committee.

4.       All members of a Grievance Review Committee must complete the Grievance Review Committee Training conducted by the Office of Human Resources, before either the materials relevant to the grievance are distributed to the committee or the committee begins its investigation.

IV.  Mediation       

Mediation is a process in which a trained third party meets with disputants to assist them in reaching an agreement that is acceptable to all parties.  At any time, an employee may request mediation to resolve a work-related concern.  Mediation shall be employed only when all disputants agree to mediation. Mediation may not be appropriate in every situation; the Vice President for Human Resources shall decide whether external mediation is appropriate in a given case.  The mediation process is confidential; nothing disclosed during mediation may be communicated outside the context of that mediation process.   

A.                  A.  Process 

                Step 1.  At any time, an employee may request mediation of a work-related concern by delivering a written request to the Vice President of Human Resources.  

Step 2.  The Vice President of Human Resources will inform all parties to the dispute in writing, within five (5) working days of receiving the request, that they have five (5) working days to inform the Vice President in writing as to whether they accept or reject mediation.  

Step 3.  If any party to the dispute rejects mediation, the Vice President of Human Resources will so inform all parties to the dispute within five (5) working days. 

Step 4.  If all parties to the dispute accept mediation, the Vice President of Human Resources will assign a mediator and inform all parties of the assigned mediator within five (5) working days.  Mediation temporarily halts other complaint or grievance procedures and timetables from the date of the request for mediation through the date that the mediator reports that mediation has been completed.  If mediation is unsuccessful, the complaint or grievance continues from the point at which it was halted.   

Step 5.  An employee may object to the assignment of a particular mediator if there is a conflict of interest or other appropriate reason; in such cases the Vice President of Human Resources may assign another mediator (or may decide that mediation is not appropriate in this case). 

        Step 6.  The mediator will begin the process of mediation immediately, schedule such meetings as the mediator considers appropriate,  and complete the process as soon as is reasonably possible.   

Step 7.  When mediation is successfully completed, or when the mediator determines that mediation will not be successful in this case, the mediator will so inform the Vice President of Human Resources in writing. 

Step 8.  If there is a written agreement between the parties, the mediator must deliver a copy to each party to the agreement and must deliver a sealed copy to the Vice President of Human Resources.  This sealed copy may only be opened at the request of a party to the dispute as part of a complaint or grievance related to the same matter (except that any written agreement may be subject to state or federal open records laws).        

B.              B.  Mediators 

The role of a mediator is to serve as a neutral facilitator in the negotiation between the disputing parties as they work to develop a mutually acceptable resolution.  It is not within the role of a mediator to suggest a resolution to the dispute. 

Individuals who serve as mediators must have successfully completed the 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training presented by the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at The University of Texas School of Law or other ADR-approved training as accepted by the core mediators and must participate in appropriate continuing education. 

All mediators must maintain impartiality, neutrality, and confidentiality (except as required by law) at all times and must have presented to the Vice President of Human Resources a statement of commitment to The Mediation Code of Ethics that can be found at http://www.austincc.edu/hr/vp/med_ethics.php. 

C.  Oversight of Mediation Training at ACC 

      A Mediation Training Committee shall be responsible for oversight of mediation training. The committee shall include:

It is not required that a representative to this committee be a mediator.

 


President/CEO:   Stephen B. Kinslow Date:  05/26/09