HRM-027: Resolving Grievances for University Staff Employees

Date: 05/22/2009 Status: Final
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Applies To: Academic Division and the College at Wise.
Reason for Policy:

This policy provides a process for orderly and prompt resolution of work-related problems for University Staff employees.

Policy Summary:

When there are concerns or problems arising out of employment, University staff employees and their supervisors are encouraged to find informal means of resolving them. If these measures do not resolve the problem, then employees have access to either the State Grievance Procedure or the University Grievance Process depending on employment category (see chart in Section 3.a).

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):

    The use of alternative, non-adversarial processes to address stakeholder concerns generally using a neutral third party. 

  • Executive & Senior Administrative Staff (E&SA):

    University staff employees on limited term appointments having significant administrative responsibilities and duties and exercising considerable independent discretion, and having the ability to commit the University to a long term course of action. This category includes:

    • University Executive officers including Vice Presidents and the Athletic Director but excluding academic administrators (whose primary responsibility is administrative but who oversee an academic or academic-support unit of the institution) such as the Provost, Deans, University Librarian, and VP Research;
    • Members of the President’s professional staff (e.g. Chief of Staff, Chief Audit Executive; Director, Equal Opportunity Programs; etc.); and
    • Senior administrative officers with a direct reporting line to any of the above-named executives, academic administrators or Presidential professional staff, for example, Associate or Assistant Vice Presidents, Associate or Assistant Deans with administrative responsibilities, Vice Provosts with administrative responsibilities, Executive Directors, Directors, or other key senior staff; and
    • Head and Associate Head Coaches/Coordinators on individually negotiated contracts.
  • Grievance:

    An unresolved complaint concerning the application of University policy, practice, or procedure that is communicated in writing by an employee to an appropriate University official, normally the employee’s supervisor. 

  • Managerial & Professional Staff Employee (M&P):

    University staff employees who manage a division or subdivision of a major academic or administrative unit and/or exercise significant knowledge, discretion and independent judgment gained through advanced education or experience. This category includes coaches, other than Head or Associate Head Coaches/Coordinators, on individually negotiated contracts. M&P Staff are typically exempt employees under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and therefore not subject to the FLSA provisions governing the payment of overtime.

  • Operational & Administrative Staff Employee (O&A):

    University Staff employees performing office, laboratory, student and library support; building construction and maintenance; equipment services; public safety; and other operational responsibilities. O&A Staff are typically non-exempt employees under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and therefore are subject to the FLSA provisions governing the payment of overtime.

  • Retaliation:

    Reprisal, interference, restraint, penalty, discrimination, intimidation or harassment, determined in accordance with applicable legal standards.

  • University Staff Employees (University Staff):

    Those salaried, non-faculty employees hired on or after July 1, 2006, and those salaried non-faculty employees and administrative and professional faculty electing to participate in the University Human Resources System established by the Board of Visitors under the authority granted by the Restructuring Act and the Management Agreement. (The term “University Staff Employee” includes all three categories of University Staff Employees - Operational & Administrative, Managerial & Professional, and Executive & Senior Administrative.)

Policy Statement:

The University is committed to the fair treatment of all its employees. When there are workplace concerns, University Staff employees and their supervisors are encouraged to find informal and constructive means of resolving them, including voluntary mediation and other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. If ADR measures do not resolve the problem, then non-probationary employees have access to either the State Grievance Procedure or the University Grievance Process.

This policy shall not be construed to deny eligible employees access to the State Grievance Procedure; the discrimination complaint process of the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights, the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Human Resource Management’s Office of Equal Employment Services, or appropriate state or federal agencies; or any other formal complaint process to which they are entitled.

This policy does not alter any other University policies; create any right of action; create any obligation or expectation that the University will engage in ADR beyond what is agreed to by an authorized University representative; or be construed to authorize arbitration or collective bargaining prohibited by state law.

  1. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):
    The University authorizes and encourages employees and supervisors to use collaborative methods of resolving disputes and disagreements regarding its operations. Any employee, supervisor or member of management may request ADR. If the parties to a dispute agree, ADR may be used to resolve any issue in controversy. Any resulting resolution or agreement shall bind the parties only when reduced to writing and signed by them. If such resolution or agreement is also approved in writing by the Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer or designee(s) and is consistent with federal and state law and University policy, it shall bind the University as well.

  2. State Grievance Procedure:
    Those M&P and O&A University Staff employees who were hired as University Staff employees, or who were subject to the State Grievance Procedure prior to the effective date of the Management Agreement between the University and the Commonwealth, shall have access to the State Grievance Procedure. (See Chart)

  3. University Grievance Process:
    A “grievant” under this Process must be an eligible employee submitting an eligible complaint in writing in accordance with the established Process.

    1. Eligible Employee:
      To be eligible to use the University grievance process, an employee must either have been hired as:
      • E&SA Staff; or
      • a member of the University’s Administrative and Professional Faculty, electing to participate in the University Staff System as E&SA, M&P, or as O&A Staff and who previously did not have access to the State grievance system before electing to join the University Staff system.
        Summary of University Staff Category & Applicable Grievance Process
        Categories of University Staff
        State Grievance Procedure
        University Grievance Policy
        E&SA  
        X
        Hired as O&A
        X
         
        Hired as M&P
        X
         
        Hired as Classified Staff and Elected to become M&P
        X
         
        Hired as A&P Faculty and Elected to become O&A  
        X
        Hired as A&P Faculty and Elected to become M&P  
        X
    2. Eligible Complaint:
      To be eligible for resolution under this process, the grievance must arise from one of the following categories:
      1. Complaint of disciplinary action -- a complaint that the employee has been subjected to inappropriate disciplinary action (e.g., written reprimand, suspension, or termination) in his or her employment;
      2. Complaint of violation of terms and conditions of employment or employment contract breach -- for employees eligible to use this process, a complaint that the University has violated their terms and conditions of employment; and for employees hired with an individual employment contract, a complaint that the University has violated the employment contract;
      3. Complaint of retaliation as a result of a grievance -- a complaint that the employee has been subjected to acts of reprisal in his or her employment as a result of using this grievance procedure or participating in this grievance procedure on behalf of another employee.

      Complaints regarding performance appraisals, flexible work schedule decisions, work force reduction, changes in reporting lines, and other matters not within one of the above categories (i.e., complaints of disciplinary action, violations of terms and conditions of employment or breach of contract, or retaliation as a result of a grievance) are not matters subject to grievance. However, such issues may be appropriate for ADR.

      NOTE: Complaints of prohibited discrimination, harassment, or retaliation should be filed with the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) in accordance with EOCR’s established complaint procedures.

Procedures:

University Staff Grievance Committee and Its Procedures

Related Information:

EXT-001, Administrative Dispute Resolution
HRM-021, Terms and Conditions of University Staff Employment

Additional Information on Alternative Dispute Resolution
State Grievance Procedure (Va. Code §§ 2.2-3000 et seq.)

Major Category: Human Resource Management
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 05/22/2009
Revision History: This is the first version of this policy.