Policy Number: 127
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) encourages fair, efficient and equitable solutions for problems or disputes arising out of the employment relationship. The university strongly recommends individuals experiencing problems attempt to resolve them informally before exercising the grievance process. Faculty members are strongly encouraged to discuss concerns openly with the individual with whom the problem exists before proceeding with this process.
Upon separation of a faculty member from the university, dispute resolution and grievance processes end.
This policy applies to grievances of faculty members concerning actions of supervisors, department chairs or equivalent and deans as to work load, compensation, working conditions, infringement of academic rights, the interpretation of a rule, regulation or policy; and incidents involving verbal abuse or personal offense not covered under separate policies addressing illegal discrimination and sexual harassment. Topics addressed by separate policies, including dishonesty in science and disputes over tenure and promotion, are also not covered by this policy. See HOOP Policies 202 Honesty in Research, 115 Faculty Tenure and 43 Faculty Promotion. Complaints regarding harassment or discrimination should be addressed under the procedures in HOOP Policy 183 Equal Opportunity, Discrimination and Harassment.
RETALIATION AND CONFIDENTIALITY
No faculty member will be penalized, disciplined or prejudiced for filing a grievance or for aiding another faculty member in the presentation of a grievance. Faculty members who believe they have been penalized, disciplined or prejudiced for doing so, should follow the procedures in HOOP Policy 108 Protection from Retaliation. Acts or threats of retaliation in response to grievances may subject the person retaliating to disciplinary action, up to and including termination in accordance with HOOP Policy 108 Protection from Retaliation. Persons filing grievances with reckless disregard for the truth or in willful ignorance of the facts are excluded from protection and may be subjected to disciplinary action.
To the extent permitted by law, the confidentiality of the grievance process and the records and documents related to it will be protected.
A. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR)
The university encourages communication between faculty members and administrators in order to resolve workplace concerns promptly. If a faculty member has been unsuccessful resolving concerns directly, the faculty member is strongly encouraged to use the alternative dispute resolution process, if appropriate. Faculty members should contact UT Counseling & WorkLife Services to begin this process.
If a faculty member is not comfortable handling the issues through the ADR process, the faculty member may proceed directly to the Grievance Procedure.
If an agreement is not reached through these informal processes, the faculty member may then choose to pursue the Grievance Procedure outlined below. A faculty member cannot pursue an issue under the ADR process and the grievance process simultaneously.
To initiate a formal grievance, the faculty member shall present the grievance in writing to the appropriate administrator within five working days from the date the ADR process was closed or from the date of the action that is the subject of the grievance. Relevant documents or any other information pertinent to the matter should also be provided. Once the grievance has been committed to writing, it cannot be changed.
Grievances concerning immediate supervisors should be directed to the department chair; grievances against a department chair should be directed to the dean; grievances concerning a dean should be directed to the Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs ("EVPARA").
The administrator initially in receipt of the grievance (“administrator”) will forward a copy of the grievance to the party against whom the grievance is brought, who will have the opportunity to respond in writing and submit documents or materials in support of their position. The administrator will respond to the grievance within 10 working days of notifying the party against whom the grievance is brought.
Failure to respond to a faculty member within the time limit results in an automatic appeal of the grievance to the next administrative level. A time limit may be extended for good cause by the EVPARA.
If the grievance is not satisfactorily resolved by the administrator it was filed with or was not responded to in accordance with the timelines outlined in this policy, the faculty member may appeal the grievance in the following order:
- department chair;
- appropriate dean;
- Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs;
- President, or designee.
Grievances that reach the EVPARA may be submitted to the Faculty Grievance Committee (“Committee”) for an inquiry at the request of the grievant or at the election of the EVPARA. If the EVPARA makes such an election, the EVPARA will submit the grievance to the Committee within 5 working days of receipt of the appeal.
The decision of the President, or designee, is final.
Appeals must be filed with the appropriate administrator within five working days of receipt of response of the lower level decision by the faculty member. Appeals must be responded to in accordance with the following time limits:
- Department chairs and deans must respond within 10 working days following receipt of the appeal.
- The EVPARA must respond within 15 working days following receipt of the appeal (unless the appeal is forwarded to the Committee, see Section IV below).
- The President must respond by certified mail addressed to the home of the grievant within 15 working days of receipt of the appeal.
D. Faculty Grievance Committee (“Committee”)
The Committee is an ad hoc advisory committee appointed by the EVPARA. At the request of the grievant or the EVPARA, the Committee will make an inquiry into an unresolved grievance and provide a written recommendation to the EVPARA concerning its resolution.
2. Inquiry Procedures
The Committee will choose a chair from among its members who will be responsible for scheduling a time and place for the grievance inquiry. The chair will also request the parties to the grievance submit written statements of their positions with regard to the grievance, and provide the names of persons with relevant information and copies of relevant documents concerning the grievance to the chair at least 10 working days before the inquiry. The chair will ensure relevant documents are identified and distributed to Committee members and notify other persons with information relevant to the inquiry of the need to appear at the inquiry.
During the inquiry, members of the Committee may ask questions of the parties and of other persons with information relevant to the inquiry. The parties or their representatives will not be allowed to question witnesses except at the discretion of the chair.
All interactions between the Committee, parties to the grievance, and other persons questioned at the inquiry will be tape recorded.
After the inquiry, the Committee will deliberate and provide a written recommendation concerning the grievance to the EVPARA within a reasonable time not to exceed 30 days. All materials and records concerning the grievance inquiry will be forwarded to the EVPARA with the recommendation. The EVPARA will review the recommendation of the Committee and will respond to the grievant within 10 working days of receipt of the recommendation.
Upon completion of the grievance process, all recordings, documents and materials related to the processing of a formal grievance will be forwarded to the EVPARA for storage.
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