Policies

Grievance and Due Process Procedures

GRIEVANCE AND DUE PROCESS COMMITTEES

On proper request for a hearing, as hereinafter provided, the President of the University shall establish for grievance hearing an ad hoc committee of three persons and for a due process hearing an ad hoc committee of five persons. The committees shall be composed of university personnel appointed by the President, according to the classification of the person initiating the request, as follows:

  • University Faculty: from among tenured members of the university faculty, with not more than one member for a grievance committee or two members for a due process committee also holding administrative appointment.

  • Non-Faculty Staff: from among members of the university faculty and non-faculty staff.

  • Students: from among members of the university faculty, non- faculty staff, and students.

Toward assuring a full and impartial hearing strictly on the merits of the cases, due regard shall be given to appointment to committees of persons with appropriate expertise and without bias or direct interest in the outcome, to provision for peer representation where relevant, and to adherence to hearing procedures. In making committee appointments, the President may seek nominations from representative organizations such as, respectively, the Faculty Senate, and the Student Government Association. In cases involving a member of the university faculty as grievant or accused, the President shall, if so petitioned by the faculty member in the formal request for a hearing, make the committee appointments from the appropriate list of nominees established for such purposes by the Faculty Senate at the beginning of each academic year, one list to consist of nine nominees for grievance committees and one list to consist of fifteen nominees for due process committees. Persons appointed to grievance or due process committees who deem themselves disqualified by reasons of bias or interest may be excused. The grievant or accused shall have the right of challenge of committee appointments for cause and if in the judgment of the President a challenge is supported by adequate grounds, the member so challenged shall be excused. The President shall appoint replacements for members excused until a proper committee is established. The President shall designate one member of the committee to act as chair or may appoint an additional ex officio nonvoting member to act as chair. The committees may adopt supplemental rules and regulations for their governance and operation which are not in conflict with this resolution.

GRIEVANCES

A grievance is a complaint directed against another member or organization of the university community or against the University--including the departments, divisions, and schools thereof--alleging improper, arbitrary, or discriminatory application of university rules, regulations, standards, practices, and/or procedures relating to the conditions of employment or enrollment, or to other circumstances giving proper grounds for complaint. Grievance procedures do not apply to actions involving suspension, expulsion, dismissal, or other termination of employment or enrollment for cause. For such actions reference is made to the procedures under “Due Process”, below.

Informal procedures 

A grievant first must seek resolution or redress of the grievance informally through the established administrative channels beginning, according to the grievant's classification and to the nature of the grievance, with the official at the first or immediate level of authority, and, if required, continuing in the chain of authority to the next higher level. For university employees, the complaint of a faculty member normally will be directed to the department head/director with continuation in line to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost; for nonfaculty staff, to the immediate supervisor/director or to the Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action with continuation in line to the appropriate vice president. For students, a complaint involving services or activities normally will be directed to the appropriate director/officer of the service or activity with continuation in line to the Vice President for Student Affairs and University Counsel; on a complaint involving academic or instructional matters, to the academic department head with continuation in line to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Complaint by an applicant who has been denied admission to the University will be directed to the Dean of Enrollment Services with continuation in line to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Complaint by an applicant who has been denied employment at the University will be directed, for applicants to faculty positions, to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost; for applicants to nonfaculty staff positions, to the Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action with continuation in line to the Vice President for Business Affairs.

Formal hearing

If, after exhausting recourse through established administrative channels, the grievant still feels that a satisfactory remedy or relief has not been provided, the grievant may request a formal hearing. The request shall be directed to the President of the University in writing and shall bear the grievant's name, current address, and telephone number; a clear statement of the nature of the grievance and the facts supporting it; the remedy or relief sought; the date; and the grievant's signature.

On receipt of the grievant's request, the President shall proceed to the establishment of a proper Grievance Committee to hear the case, as provided for under Grievance and Due Process Committees above and shall give the grievant not less than seven days' advance notice as to the date, time, and place set for the hearing.

Grievance hearing procedures: A grievance hearing is not an administrative due process hearing and therefore does not include all of those procedures provided for in due process hearings; neither do formal rules of evidence apply. The hearing shall be confidential and only those persons concerned should be included in the hearing.

Functions of the Grievance Committee: The Committee or Committee Chair may confer with the grievant prior to the hearing to schedule witnesses, provide for the exchange of documents, and achieve other appropriate objectives to make the procedures fair, effective, and expeditious. In the hearing, the Committee may question the grievant and the witnesses presented by the grievant, may call such witnesses and examine such documents as it considers necessary, and shall keep a record of the hearing.

The Committee's role is to investigate the complaint as presented to the Committee by the grievant, to obtain all the facts in the dispute, and to come to a conclusion as to whether or not the grievant has just cause for complaint. In grievances which are contractual in nature, the Committee's role is to determine whether or not the grievant has had all the benefits of the procedures afforded by the grievant's contract and the rules and regulations of the University, school, and department, and whether or not the decision which forms the basis for the complaint was the result of adequate consideration in terms of the relevant standards of the University, school, and department. It is not within the scope of the Committee to make judgments on the professional qualifications of the grievant, such being the responsibility of the administrators within the concerned department, school, and the University. The Committee shall be guided in its decisions only by the evidence presented at the hearing.

Rights and responsibilities of the grievant: It is the responsibility of the grievant to present all the facts and to prove the merits of the grievance. To this end the grievant shall state the grievance with specificity, shall be allowed to present witnesses and documents on the grievant's behalf, and to examine any other witnesses and documents presented. The grievant shall not be represented by counsel but may have the assistance of an adviser of his choice from among personnel of the university community.

The Committee's report and final action: Upon conclusion of the hearing, the Grievance Committee shall prepare a report summarizing the evidence and rendering its conclusions. Copies of the report shall be sent to the President and to the grievant. Within 14 days of the receipt of the report, the President, giving due weight to the report of the Committee, shall render a decision and so notify the grievant. Should the President's decision be inconsistent with the report of the Committee, the President shall state his reasons to the grievant and to the Committee. The President's action shall be final, expect that a grievant may appeal a reversed or modified decision to a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees.

DUE PROCESS

To assure the protection of individual rights and due process in actions involving the suspension, dismissal, or other termination for cause of university employees, the following procedures may be invoked by written request of the affected employee:

Due process procedures

Initiation of action: Any person may call to the President's attention in any reasonable manner--directly or through channels-- any conduct or circumstance of any member of the university community thought to be violative of university rules or regulations or otherwise to merit action involving suspension, dismissal, or other termination for cause. The President, of his own volition, may investigate any such conduct or circumstance. If, after investigation, the President is of the opinion that such action should be taken, he shall give the person so accused or affected proper notice of the action proposed.

Notice of proposed action: The President's notice to the accused of the action proposed shall be in writing by certified or registered mail or by such other appropriate means as may provide delivery and proof of receipt. The notice also shall contain:

­ a statement of the charges or conditions supporting the action proposed; ­ notice of the accused's right to a full and fair hearing before a Due Process Committee; ­ notice that such hearing shall be afforded only if requested in writing within ten days from the date of receipt of the Notice of Proposed Action, and that, if such request for a hearing is not received within this time limit, the right to a hearing shall be deemed to have been waived and the proposed action shall be imposed therewith or as specified in the notice; and ­ information as to where a copy of the hearing procedures may be obtained.

Due process hearing: If proper request for a hearing is made, the hearing shall be afforded not sooner than 14 or later than 21 days from the date of receipt of the request, unless, by mutual agreement, other time limits are established by written agreement. On receipt of the request, the President shall proceed with the establishment of an appropriate Due Process Committee (as provided for under Grievance and Due Process Committees, above), informing the accused of the names of the members and providing reasonable opportunity and time for exercise of the rights of challenge. When a proper Due Process Committee is established, the accused shall be notified in writing of the date, time, and place set for the hearing at least seven days before the hearing. The notice shall contain the names of the witnesses and a summary of the nature of the testimony and evidence to be presented against the accused, and the accused and/or the accused's representative shall be permitted to inspect, at least three days in advance of the hearing, any affidavits or exhibits the University intends to submit at the hearing. However, the foregoing shall not prevent the presentation of evidence or testimony by the University that has not been disclosed to the accused, provided the University has good cause or justification for failure to disclose. The President shall designate an appropriate person or persons to present the case for the University.

Not later than three days before the hearing, the accused shall present to the University or its attorney a list of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses expected to be called to testify and the nature of the testimony and evidence to be offered by each witness. The university representative shall be permitted to inspect at least three days in advance of the hearing any affidavits or exhibits the accused intends to submit at the hearing. However, the foregoing shall not prevent the presentation of evidence or testimony by the accused that has not been disclosed to the University, provided the accused has good cause or justification for failure to disclose.

At the discretion of the President, the accused may be suspended during the proceeding if immediate harm to the accused or to others is threatened by continuance or if there is other just and sufficient cause supported by substantial evidence. Unless forbidden by law, the salary or wages of the university employee so suspended will be continued during the time of suspension.

Committee procedures: The Committee or the Committee Chair may confer with the parties prior to the hearing in order to review procedures, provide for scheduling of witnesses and for any necessary exchange of documents or other information, and to achieve such other objectives as may make the hearing fair, effective, and expeditious. The Committee may consider, in advance of the hearing, the statement of grounds for the proposed action already formulated and such written response as the accused may elected to submit.

The Committee shall be responsible for establishing the order of procedure, for conducting the question of witnesses, for securing—if necessary--the presentation of evidence important to the case, and for developing such supplemental rules and procedures for its governance and operation as are not in conflict with other provisions of this resolution.

The Committee, in consultation with the parties concerned, shall exercise its judgment as to whether the hearing shall be private or public.

Hearing procedures: The due process hearing shall be governed by the following rules and regulations: ­ The accused shall be permitted to have legal counsel and/or an adviser of the accused's choice. The University shall be permitted to have legal counsel.

­ The accused shall be afforded the right to present his version as to the charges or circumstances and to present his case by way of such statements, affidavits, witnesses, and exhibits as he desires. The accused shall be afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary or other evidence, and the University will reasonably cooperate with the Committee in securing witnesses and in making available documentary and other evidence.

­ The accused and the University shall have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. The Committee may grant adjournments to either party to permit the investigation of evidence to which a claim of surprise is made.

­ The Committee shall not be bound by strict rules of legal evidence and may admit any evidence which is of probative value in determining the issues involved. Reasonable effort should be made to obtain the most reliable evidence available.

­ The burden of proof that adequate cause exists rests with the University and will be satisfied only by a preponderance (majority) of the evidence. The findings of fact in the decision shall be based solely on the hearing record.

­ An audio recording of the hearing shall be made and the audio recording of the hearing shall be made available to the accused and the University on request and without charge.

­ Except for such simple announcements as may be required covering the time of the hearing and similar matters, publicity and public statements about the case by either party will be avoided.

Committee decision and report: On conclusion of the hearing, the Due Process Committee in executive session shall, by majority vote and solely on the basis of the evidence presented at the hearing, decide whether or not the evidence in the record has established adequate cause for the action proposed, and, on the basis of that decision, shall recommend to the President the disposition of the case. If the Committee concludes that adequate cause has been established but that a proper penalty less than that proposed would be more appropriate, it may so recommend with supporting reasons. The Committee's decision and recommendations shall be reduced to a written report which shall be forwarded, along with the record of the hearing, to the President. A copy of the Committee's report shall be sent to the accused by certified mail.

President's decision: Within 14 days of the receipt of the report, the President, giving due weight to the report of the Committee, shall render a decision and so notify the accused in writing. Should the President's decision be inconsistent with the report of the Committee, the President shall state his reasons to the accused and to the Committee. The President's action shall be final, except that the accused may appeal a reversed or modified action to a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees.

Exceptions to Due Process Procedures:

Student discipline: This procedure shall not be construed in any manner to apply to or affect the operation of student-operated procedures which may impose discipline short of suspension, expulsion, or dismissal, or to matters covered by the Student Disciplinary System Manual.

Academic probation, suspension, and dismissal: This procedure shall not be construed in any manner to give any right of hearing of any nature to students placed on academic probation or suspended or dismissed because of academic insufficiency.

Reorganizations, reductions in force, and nonrenewal of non-tenured faculty contracts: This procedure shall not be construed to limit the administrative discretion of the President to elect not to renew contracts of non-tenured personnel of the University or to terminate or abolish certain positions in the University for economic or other legitimate, nondiscriminatory, and constitutionally permissible reasons. In such situations, the person whose contract is not renewed or whose employment is otherwise terminated shall not have an absolute right to a hearing before a Due Process Committee; provided, however, that if the person whose position is so severed is of the opinion that such action has deprived him of "liberty" or of a "property interest" in continued employment, he may, within ten days of severance notice, make written petition to the President to invoke the due process procedures provided herein and may be granted such a hearing at the President's sole discretion.

At will employees: At will employees are not entitled to due process procedures upon their termination from employment unless an adverse action against them infringes a "liberty" or "property" interest of the employee, or the President expressly grants them that right in a letter imposing the adverse action.

Definitions

­ Masculine pronouns used herein shall be deemed to include and refer to females as well as to males.

­ The term "University" when used herein without further designation shall refer to the University of North Alabama.

­ The term "President" when used herein without further designation shall refer to the President of the University of North Alabama.

­ The phrase "university community" when used herein shall refer to the students, faculty, and non-faculty staff members and employees of the University of North Alabama.

Approved by the Board of Trustees, 12/04/1992